Uganda’s Health Minister, Jane Ruth Aceng has revealed that the East African Country has no capacity to handle cases of COVID-2019 commonly known as coronavirus despite Government setting aside Shs25bn to fight the virus within three months.
The Minister says Uganda is already strained with outbreak of yellow fever and threats of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
“Does Uganda have the capacity to handle a corona virus outbreak in terms of speacialised isolation facility, specialized equipment? My answer is no,” Dr. Aceng (pictured)said.
She added: “This virus is new and spreads very fast. In addition, the country is already over stretched with outbreaks; The Ebola threats from DRC is still alive and our health workers have been at the border. There is also yellow fever in Buliisa, Moyo and Maracha.”
Aceng made the revelation on Thursday in a statement to Parliament in response to cries by students trapped in Wuhan-China, who called on Government to evacuate them after running out of basic needs, with some leaving in fear of starving to death.
The Minister said that at the time of issuing the statement, 1370 deaths had been recorded with only one occurring in Philippines, 6074 recoveries were recorded and the disease has been recorded in 24 countries, with Uganda not having any confirmed case.
Aceng said that even when no case has been recorded in Africa, Uganda will remain on high alert because China is Uganda’s main trading partner.
Government has also set aside USD61,000 (about Shs242.055M) that will be sent to the 105 students trapped in Wuhan and the students can be in position to set their hands on the money through PayWay.
She also described as false reports that some countries in Africa had expatriated theirs nationals, saying that even the World Health Organisation hasn’t issued any guidance on repatriation and that countries are strongly advised to assess their capacities to handle the outbreak bearing in mind that repatriation of people from Wuhan city may potentially introducing the virus into the country.
The Minister also said the Government’s plans to evacuate students were further quashed by prices quoted by airlines which cost ranges from USD500,000 to USD1Million and Fly Emirates said it would take them two months to secure a plane for Uganda, while Qatar Airways suspended flight to China, while Ethiopian airlines is noncommittal on entering into such a deal with Uganda, yet China is very far and only big airlines can make such a trip.
She however said that government is closely monitoring the situation in China while exploring the option of evacuating the 105 students.
In her statement, Minister Aceng said the Ugandan Ambassador to China Crispus Kiyonga was coordinating the situation of students, a statement that was rejected by Bernard Atiku, (Ayivu County) who said that Kiyonga ran away from China the moment the disease broke out.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga also asked Clerk to Parliament, Jane Kibirige to identify MPs who were in China recently and isolate them after some MPs revealed that there were no measures at Entebbe airport to screen all people coming from China to Uganda.