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Returnees protest extra days in quarantine

FILE PHOTO: A total of 804 Ugandans and legal residents have returned from Afghanistan, India, Southern Africa, Ireland and the United Kingdom among others since June 22.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | A section of Ugandans who have just returned into the country from overseas are protesting spending more than 14 days in institutional quarantine.

A total of 804 Ugandans and legal residents have returned from Afghanistan, India, Southern Africa, Ireland and the United Kingdom among others since June 22 and are currently accommodated in 37 quarantine centres in Entebbe and Kampala which were gazetted by the Ministry of Health.

However, at Entebbe International Airport returnees say they got a document authored by the Ministry of Health indicating that a sample would be taken on the 14th day and returned within three days after completion of the mandatory quarantine days.

As a result, the returnees through a one Ivan Bwowe say that the Ministry of Health is, in essence, expecting them to spend not less than 17 days in quarantine. Bwowe, a lawyer who returned last week from Ireland, in protest has now written to Ministry of Health stating challenging the extra days.

In a letter dated July 8, 2020, Bwowe informed Health Minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng that they will have no contractual obligation with the quarantine centre’s at the end of the 14th day, yet many of them only budgeted for the days that they were told before boarding planes to Uganda.

Bwowe says the Ministry of Health should know that it is dealing with people who are already distressed and frustrated by inefficient systems and demands that they should be given definitive periods not estimates for when the quarantine will be done.

Two other returnees, who preferred anonymity told URN that the Ministry of Health should be considerate because some of them got stranded for almost four months without working and have already spent so much in airfares to return home. One says that they have spent over 8 million Shillings on travel costs and will pay over more than 3 million Shillings on quarantine at a cost of 170,000 Shillings a day.

However, the Health Ministry Spokesperson Emmanuel Ainebyoona says that the ministry communicated quarantine procedures indicating that the last sample is taken on the 14th day and that the results are expected within the 48 hours after the sample is taken. Ainebyoona says the laboratory team is working hard to ensure that results are returned quickly but average waiting time is 48 hours.

In March, a number of quarantined persons spent between 17 to 24 days in institutional quarantine.

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