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COVID VARIANT: Uganda bans flights from India

FILE PHOTO: Entebbe Aiport is the main entry point into Uganda for planes

Travelers from US, UK, UAE, Turkey, South Africa, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Tanzania will also be subjected to PCR COVID-19 tests

Entebbe, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT & URN | All passenger flights between Uganda and India have been suspended as a control measure against a deadly new COVID-19 variant.

No travelers from India shall be allowed into Uganda regardless of the route of travel after 23.59 hours on May 1, the Ministry of Health announced today. CLICK TO READ FULL STATEMENT

Minister of Health Ruth Aceng said in the statement that all travelers who may have been in India or travelled through India in the last 14 days shall not be allowed into Uganda. Those arriving before the suspension date will undergo a mandatory PCR test upon arrival unless they have done the test in the last 120 hours.

Travelers from US, UK, UAE, Turkey, South Africa, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Tanzania will also be subjected to PCR COVID-19 tests at all entry points including Entebbe airport.

“I appeal to the communities and community leaders to be vigilant should they identify a traveler from any of the countries listed in the above categories and report to the district authorities,” Ruth Aceng said.

The Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) early this week detected the Indian COVID-19 variant in Kampala.

Prof Kaleebu (right) has confirmed that the Indian variant has been traced in Uganda. UVRI PHOTO

According to officials from the Ministry of Health, the variant also referred to as -B.1.617 was detected from travelers returning from Indian. The variant was picked up after the travelers went to get tested after they were feeling unwell.

Prof. Pontiano Kaleebu, the executive director of UVRI says they have so far identified one case but are on the lookout for other cases.

“We have picked up one case but are still looking for more because we are not yet sure whether the infected person had interacted with other people,” said Prof. Kaleebu.

Reports already indicate that the country has so far detected over 300 cases of COVID-19 variants from other countries. According to scientists, there are now six strains of the disease circulating in the country at the moment. These include variants from South Africa, Nigeria, India and the UK.

Variant Original report Nos detected in Uganda Location of patient
A.23.1 (VOI) Uganda 135 First        reported          in

Uganda, but now found in 34 countries

A.23 (VOI) 73
B.1.351 (VOC) South

African

15 Mostly from truck drivers from Kenya
B.1.1.7 (VOC) UK 15 Mostly from Truck drivers from Kenya
B.1.525 (VOC) Nigerian 13 Some from Truck drivers others Kampala, Mulago
B.1.617 (VOC) Indian 1 Patient was in Mulago
Others: A, A,20, A 22, A25, B. B.l, B.l.l,

B.l.l.l, ETC (VOI)

147 Mostly detected early in the pandemic from travelers
TOTAL 399

Dr. Diana Atwine, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Health on Wednesday told Uganda Radio Network (URN) that they are worried about the presence of the Indian variant in the country since it seems to attack the young mainly.

“This variant is not like the disease we knew last year. It attacks the young which was not the case last year with the strain that we had and have grown accustomed to. Young people in India are dropping down in the streets dying. These people are not old, they are young. With 75 percent of our population below the age of 35, this is worrying,” said Dr. Atwine.

COVID-19 cases are on the rise in India with over 300,000 cases being reported daily. Authorities in India attribute the spike in cases to the Indian variant which they say has contributed over 50 percent of the cases.

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