Uganda’s Health Minister, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng has dismissed rumors that there are plans to release people suspected of having the now dreaded COVID-19 into the public.
Aceng made the remarks on Sunday during a tour of Entebbe International Airport where she spent quite some time assessing the situation.
“This afternoon, i have spent some bit time here at the airport to demystify the rumor that seventeen people with signs and symptoms of coronavirus are at the airport and that we are preparing to release them among the population. These rumor is absolutely false,” Aceng said on Sunday.
COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
Uganda has no confirmed case of COVID-19 as of 07th March 2020. However, to date a total of 1,296 travelers, Chinese, Ugandans and others travelling back home have been identified as high-risk and identified for purposes of follow up. A total of 765 travellers are under self-quarantine, of which 456 have completed the mandatory 14 days of self- isolation.
She explained that the misinformation arose after individuals from the ‘category 1’ countries that the ministry has flagged for close scrutiny jetted into the country unaware of the move.
On Saturday, the ministry unveiled categories of countries at high risk of spreading the virus to Uganda and advised those planning to visit the East African nation to reconsider their plans until the virus is dealt with.
“People residing in the following 7 countries (Italy, Iran, South Korea, France, China, Germany, and Spain) should consider postponing non-essential travel to Uganda. Any traveler from these countries, including Ugandan nationals will be subjected to self-quarantine for 14 days on arrival to Uganda even if they do not exhibit symptoms of COVID-19,” the minister said on Saturday.
She revealed that individuals who were travelling to Uganda from the category 1 countries for the Uganda – EU Business Forum, decided to return to their countries after it was explained to them that their home countries were high risk areas to Uganda.
“I must stress that they do not have signs and symptoms of coronavirus. It is only because they are from the category 1 countries,” Aceng revealed adding that they will be boarding flights back home on Sunday.
In Saturday’s statement, Aceng listed Category 2 countries as; UK, Switzerland, Norway, Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, India, and USA and said, “the Ministry of Health will observe the travelers very closely and the evolution of the outbreak in these countries and advise on any restrictions in the coming weeks,” while Category 3 countries as “The rest of the countries” which will undergo the routine screening upon arrival and be advised accordingly on the measures to undertake while in country to prevent infection and where to report if not feeling well.