Uganda: Hunt on for 2,000 Returnees as COVID-19 Cases Rise to 48

Three more people have tested positive for Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) pushing the total number of cases to 48 in Uganda, Uganda’s Health Minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng has announced. 

Aceng told a press briefing at State House that the three are part of the 419 cases that were tested today, by the Uganda Virus Research Institute.

Two of the new cases are Ugandans who returned from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) while the other returned from the United States of America (USA).   Dr Aceng indicated that 13 of the initial 45 cases had got in contact with 660 people prior to their quarantine. The contacts are being traced, she said.

Accordingly, the Ministry of Health is tracing for more than 2,000 returnees who are suspected to have been exposed to COVID-19  as they travelled back from high risk countries before the government announced travel restrictions.

New research intimates that the incubation period of COVID-19 can last from two to 30 days in some cases. This means that travelers who entered Uganda between March 15 and 16 might be exposed to the disease.

“Majority of the confirmed cases were detected at the airport. 13 might have interacted with locals and we have traced their contacts. We are now looking for other travelers who have not come forward,” Dr Aceng said.

According to Dr Aceng, the missing people have not responded to government’s call to go for testing and confirm their COVID-19 status. The travelers are being traced because there’s a fear that some travelers who might not have shown symptoms at the airport might be spreading the disease unknowingly. 

Once found, the missing travelers will be examined and put under quarantine as they are being monitored.

Research shows that one infected person can spread the disease to 15 people on average. It is estimated that up to 100 people among the missing 2000 are positive.

The number of cases reported globally now stands at over 1 million people. In Africa, over 6,000 cases have been confirmed.

But despite the increase in numbers, President Museveni says, he is still hopeful that Uganda will overcome the pandemic and downplayed fears that the economy is likely to take a dive as one of the effects of the outbreak.

According to the president, the economy is unlikely to suffer drastically since some sectors like farming and manufacturing will grow even though, tourism and the entertainment industry may suffer some decline.

President Museveni also used the address to appeal to Ugandans to cooperate in order to defeat the virus. He said, if his government had acted quickly to close the airport probably the country wouldn’t have registered a single case of COVID-19.

“All these people causing us problems are returnees so we have to do everything to weed out the lumbugu,” Museveni said.

According to the latest records by press time, coronavirus which started in China at the end of last year, had killed 58,149 people and infected 1,083,081 others.  

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