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Gov’t To Schools: COVID-19 Tests Not Mandatory For Students

State Minister for Primary Healthcare, Joyce Kaducu

The Ministry of Health has distanced itself from demands by school owners to parents to pay Shs240, 000 for COVID tests for their students ahead of school reopening next week. The Ministry says the tests aren’t mandatory.

The revelation was made by Joyce Moriku Kaducu, State Minister for Primary Healthcare, while responding to a complaint raised by Henry Kibalya (Bugabula South) during today’s plenary sitting.

Kibalya wondered why Government has declined to give some schools certificates to reopen for failing to put in place all the Standard Operating Procedures yet no financial support has been offered to these schools.

“Some schools have been denied certificates of reopening for not meeting SOPs. The school owners have also told parents that the fees they paid before COVID has to be repaid afresh because this is a new term and they are to pay new fees,” Kibalya said.

He added: “The parents are also required to meet cost of COVID-19 tests. Some parents are saying, if I failed to pay Shs76,000 how can they pay Shs240,000 for testing.”

In response, Kaducu said that the screening for COVID-19 will only be reserved for teachers and students who show symptoms of the deadly disease. The symptoms to be looked up include; Fever, Body weakness, Cough, Difficulty in breathing, Loss of smell, Loss of appetite and Sore throat.

“The ministry of health came up with SOPs so that we are in position to keep our children safe while we are at school. Among the SOPs there is no provision for testing all candidate classes and teachers. This isn’t going to be the case,” said Kaducu.

She said the only guidelines the schools are required to have are temperature guns for screening for temperature, hand washing facilities or sanitizers.

“We look at spacing in class room and where they are going to sleep,” she said.

However, Geoffrey Macho (Busia Municipality) questioned how the country can trust that SOPs can work without testing children, yet the country is already grappling with high COVID-19 cases.

The Minister said that currently, the country is in stage four where we got extensive community transmission and that is where the efforts have been placed.

Results of COVID-19 tests done on 5 October 2020 confirmed 117 new cases, bringing Uganda’s cumulative confirmed cases to 9,082 while Recoveries are 5,457. Uganda also registered 2 new COVID-19 deaths from Amuru and Arua, bringing the total COVID-19 deaths to now 84.

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