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Lawyer petitions Minister to discharge Dr. Spire from quarantine

FILE PHOTO: Dr Jimmy Spire Ssentongo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Lawyer Isaac Ssemakadde has petitioned the Minister of Health to discharge renowned cartoonist Dr Jimmy Spire Ssentongo, from institutional quarantine. Spire has been held in quarantine from March 19 when he arrived into the country from the United Kingdom.

He was initially supposed to be quarantined for 14 days in line with the WHO guidelines on the incubation period for the disease which has so far infected more than one million people across the globe. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University Hospital, persons who contract coronavirus will develop symptoms between five and 12 days after their exposure to the new virus.

But Spire has so far spent 21-days in quarantine despite testing negative on two different occasions. According to the Ministry of Health, his quarantine was extended after members of the same group that were quarantined at Arch apartments in Ntinda tested positive to coronavirus.

Now Ssemakadde wants the Health Minister Dr Ruth Aceng to discharge Dr Spire because they have already completed the mandatory 14-days. He accuses the Minister of abusing her powers under the law to delay the issuance of discharge certificates to persons in quarantine.

He says the minister is using a series of unjustified claims to justify her decision, to the detriment of his client’s health, liberty and dignity. According to Ssemakadde, the extended quarantine tantamount to unlawful detention, torture and inhumane treatment contrary to the provisions of the constitution and public health control of COVID- 19 rules.

The lawyer now wants the Health Minister to urgently engage with relevant officials from her ministry to design a more rational and reasonable arrangement that will lead to the discharge of his client from institutional quarantine promptly and equitably without endangering the public.

The Spokesperson of Ministry of Health Emmanuel Ainebyoona advises that officials are working on the discharge process.

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