PM Rugunda goes into Quarantine as Uganda's COVID-19 Cases Rise

Ruhakana Rugunda, Uganda's prime minister, speaks during an interview in New York, U.S., on Thursday, July 23, 2015. Compared with China, whose investments have grown 40-fold in the past 12 years, the U.S. is seen as "lukewarm" in Africa, Rugunda said. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has risen to 557 after 35 more people tested positive for the disease, the Ministry of Health has announced.

The new cases were part of the 2,267 samples that were tested at the Uganda Virus Research Institute and the Central Public Health Laboratory on Thursday.

 Of the new cases, 20 were from alerts and contacts that were picked from the community in Kampala, Amuru, Mayuge, Kyotera, Wakiso, Dokolo and Amolatar, while 15 were from truck drivers who were tested from Elegu, Busia, Malaba and the Oraba entry points.

Another 31 foreign truck drivers including 18 Kenyans, seven Tanzanians, four Congolese and two Burundian nationals who tested positive were sent back to their countries of origin after testing positive, Dr. Charles Olaro, the director general of Health Services said in a statement. 

 This week, over 140 confirmed cases have been recorded in the country. Over half of these cases were reported from alerts and contacts within communities which is a worrying trend according to Dr. Diana Atwine, the permanent secretary at the Health ministry.

 Uganda’s number of confirmed cases has now surpassed Rwanda which has 410 and Tanzania with 509. Kenya and South Sudan have the highest number of confirmed cases in the region each with 2,340 and 994 respectively. 

 “The rest of the world has been reporting high numbers as we were preparing for the worst. With the numbers that we are now getting, the epidemic has just hit Uganda. We are likely to see much bigger numbers,” Atwine said.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakan Rugunda has gone into self-isolation after some of his contacts tested positive for COVID-19. He becomes the first senior government official to be isolated since the first cases of coronavirus disease was recorded in Uganda in March.

 The prime minister’s results were among the 2,267 samples that were tested yesterday for the disease. From the results that were released today morning, 35 new cases were confirmed. 15 of the cases were from truck drivers while 20 cases were from alerts and contacts to truck drivers or people who have tested positive for the disease.

 According to health regulations, the prime minister will self-isolate for 14-days under the close watch of health experts.

If he does not develop any COVID-19 related symptoms, he will be retested after the 14-days and given an isolation permit which confirms that he has tested negative for the disease.

 Dr. Rugunda has in recent weeks held meetings with various teams that donated to the National COVID-19 task force as well as teams that were distributing food in some areas of Kampala. He was also among the key government officials that were part of the presidential briefings on coronavirus disease.

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