Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Health Ministry has defended its decision to isolate people returning from China or any of the countries with confirmed cases of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID – 19), saying it is the only way to key the disease at bay.
The virus has affected more than 70,000 people and claimed 2000 others in China. To ensure the disease doesn’t spread to Uganda, the Health Ministry has been confining people returning from China or any other affected countries in their homes, hotels or other areas of residences for monitoring.
The Health Ministry Permanent Secretary, Dr. Diana Atwiine, says currently hundreds of people have been isolated this way.
However, the method has caused a backlash from the public who maintain that asking people to quarantine themselves is risky and exposes a lot of people to danger.
According to guidelines, people who have traveled to the areas affected by the virus are required to stay under quarantine for 14 days.
Dr. Atwiine explains that it’s too costly for government to keep watch of all the people who have returned from the affected countries that is why they have decided to monitor them from their homes and alerted government health facilities close to them to be keen on any symptoms that may arise.
She says health workers in those areas are under instructions to refer anyone to the isolation facilities at Entebbe and China-Uganda Friendship hospital in Naguru.
She says the disease is testing people’s self-consciousness, saying because of vigilance among the population they receive reports almost on a daily basis especially in areas that have Chinese presence of cases that they suspect only for tests to come out negative.
For instance according to a statement released by the Ministry on Thursday evening, suspected cases of Chinese in construction camps of Bullisa and Masindi all tested negative even as this has caused panic.
“The rumor was a false alert. The community mistook self-isolation of Chinese construction workers as hiding sick people,” the statement reads in part. According to Dr. Atwine there is need for self-discipline to stop the disease from spreading.
As of today according to statistics from the Health Ministry, 444 people have been referred for self-isolation. Of these 121 are Ugandans, 307 Chinese and 16 other nationals. 58 have completed their 14 days of follow up.
To date, Uganda hasn’t registered any case of corona virus. To keep the virus at bay, Shillings 25billion has been allocated to among others surveillance and screening activities.