Uganda extends lockdown for more 14 days as reported COVID-19 cases reach 260.
Ministry of Health (MOH) has confirmed 12 new COVID-19 cases from 1,743 samples tested of truck drivers on Monday bringing the total number of cases in Uganda to 260.
According to a MOH statement, the new cases are all of Ugandans and they tested positive at particular border points of entry.
The health ministry said all 32 foreign truck drivers who tested positive for COVID-19 were deported back to their respective countries.
“12 new COVID-19 cases confirmed from 1,743 samples of truck drivers. All new cases are Ugandans. 32 foreign truck drivers who tested positive for COVID-19 were turned back to their respective countries,” a statement from the Ministry read.
The new figure now brings the total number of COVID-19 cases in Uganda to 260 with 63 recoveries and no single death has yet been reported from the virus.
For close to two weeks, Uganda has not registered any cases among its community members with all new cases coming from the truckers who now represent three-quarters of the country’s total cases.
During his 14th address to the nation yesterday, President Museveni released a plan on how they are going to handle the issue of truck drivers that have proven susceptible to more new cases.
The President explained that the medium-term solution can be shifting transportation of cargo to the railway however, Uganda is not in a position to do that now.
He re-emphasized that the cargo trucks cannot be stopped from moving because it will pose a threat not only to the economy but also to many people’s lives countrywide.
“We have lost $1.6b from tourism. We may lose $1.3b from remittances from Ugandans living abroad. We can’t lose forex from our coffee, tea, milk products, etc in addition to failing to bring in raw materials,” President Museveni said.
“That is simply a wrong debate. The debate should not be whether to allow the drivers or not. The debate should be on how these drivers should be handled. The medium-term solution can be railway but for now, Uganda cannot.”
As a solution, the President said that they are going to carry out quick testing of all these truckers and ensure their results are released earlier with no single driver expected to depart before his or her results are released.
“The only problem that we are going to eliminate now is the delay in the testing. We shall now not allow any driver to enter Uganda or leave the border until their result is known,” he explained.
According to the President, the current rapid testing kits that produce results within 32 hours are now being concentrated at Mutukula border point, where traffic is lower than on other borders.
And the new testing strategy is working. On Sunday, 14 Tanzanians, 16 Kenyans, one Rwandan, one Burundian and three Eritreans were turned back at the different border points.
However, 21 were Ugandan drivers and they have since been hospitalised.