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Ministry of health asks foreign affairs ministry to limit number of returnees

FILE PHOTO: Ugandan Nationals return aboard a Fly Emirates aircraft from the United Arab Emirates.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Ministry of Health has asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to limit the number of people returning from abroad to only 300.

This comes after more than 900 people who were stranded aboard due to the lockdown imposed due to the outbreak of COVID-19 returned in almost three weeks. Earlier on, both ministries had agreed to only allow 300 people to return after every two weeks.

The Minister of Health Dr Jane Ruth Aceng says that if the number is limited, it will enable the health workers to manage the returnees who are supposed to undergo institutional quarantine.

With more than double the agreed-upon returnees, Minister Aceng says that some health workers are strained.

Last week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stalled all embassies halting the return process of people.

Ambassador Patrick Mugoya, the Permanent Secretary at the time said that the agreed-upon number of 300 was for only Ministry of health public institutional facilities. Other centres like hotels could take in as many as 1000 people.

“The 300 figure was for the Ministry of health. The hotels that we have here can handle more than 1,000 people. The capacity is there. But for now, on the request of health officials, we have stopped the process so that they can handle the numbers in the country so that we are not overstretched,” Mugoya said.

It is still not known when the next group will arrive in the country. The next phase of returnees will be coming from the United States, United Arab Emirates, China and Malaysia.

The first group of returnees entered the country on June 22, 2020, from Turkey. Since then, eight other flights have entered from Sudan, Netherlands, India, Afghanistan, United Arab Emirates, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

The returnees are supposed to undergo mandatory institutional quarantine at 34 designated places in hotels and schools.

As of today, 15 people among the returnees have tested positive for the disease.

According to the health ministry, over 1,700 Ugandans and foreign nationals are currently undergoing quarantine in the country.

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