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Mutukula border post to get COVID-19 testing lab as cross border threat increases

Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary Doctor Diana Atwine leading team of Specialists that Inspected Mutukula border that has planned to COVID-19 testing Laboratory

Kampala, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT |  The Ministry of Health has undertaken to put up a stationed laboratory at the Uganda-Tanzania border of Mutukula to speed up the process of testing people for the novel Coronavirus.

Doctor Diana Atwine, the Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary on Thursday led a team of specialists to assess a situation at the Mutukula border in Kyotera district.

She noted that the border station requires its own specialized laboratory services to respond to the big COVID-19 threat presented by neighboring Tanzania.  Atwine says that the laboratory expected in a month will provide Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing to all people entering the country from Tanzania, to avoid scenarios of positive cases getting into contact with the community.

At the moment, samples from all cross-border truck drivers are taken to the Uganda Virus Research Institute while the suspects are left to proceed into the country as they wait for the results.

But Atwine observes that they now intend to eliminate the delay in getting the results which is increasing the risk of transmission in the country, adding that they are going to man the border point with more permanent staff to effectively manage the process.

She explains that they are highly concerned about the many porous border point, between Uganda and countries that are already reporting community transmission of the virus, saying the ministry may consider spontaneous testing of all people around Mutukula.

Meanwhile, Patrick Kintu Kisekulo, the Kyotera district chairperson also reported that their response taskforce is facing a serious challenge of people crossing the border by water.

He cited the communities residing at the Islands of Kasensero, Nangoma and Musambwa, close to the border with Tanzania. He asked the Permanent Secretary to press government for a comprehensive approach that to address the threats from the areas.

Kisekulo has also cautioned the government against any possibilities of opening schools before the East African Region is completely free from Coronavirus, explaining that a sizeable number of learners in Kyotera district come from across the border in Tanzania and could easily come with the virus.

Major David Matovu, the Kyotera Resident District Commissioner and Chairperson of the district COVID-19 taskforce said that the absence of a harmonized approach to lockout the spread of COVID-19 between Uganda and Tanzania is frustrating their efforts of enforcing safety guidelines announced by President Museveni.

According to him, because Tanzania is yet to declare a lockdown, many Ugandans are still stealthily sneaking out of Uganda and freely do businesses across the border which poses a threat to the country.



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