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Travelers at Entebbe Airport ignorant of coronavirus

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Passengers traveling in and out of Uganda through Entebbe International Airport are ignorant about novel coronavirus, a new strain of zoonotic diseases that had not been previously identified in humans.

The deadly virus, said to have originated from the Chinese city of Wuhan has so far killed 213 people in China. Nearly 2,000 new cases were recorded in china in the past 24 hours, raising the worldwide total to nearly 9,800, according to Chinese and World Health Organization data. The vast majority of the cases are inside China, while 98 cases have been confirmed in 18 other countries.

The countries where other cases were reported include, Tibet, Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Australia, Malaysia, Macau, France, United States, South Korea, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Vietnam, Italy, India, the Philippines, Nepal, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Finland, a number of which are often visited by Ugandans and are also a source of traffic to Uganda.

The Ugandan Government has now advised travelers to avoid crowds, shaking hands and maintain good hygienic standards, to avoid the spread of the virus.  A screening centre has been set up at Entebbe International airport with rapid response teams on standby to refer all suspected cases to the Uganda Virus Research Institute and Entebbe Regional Referral Hospital.

According to James Eyul, the officer in charge of health and safety at Entebbe International Airport, medical staff at the airport are undergoing training to easily identify and handle coronavirus cases.

But several travellers that Uganda Radio Network talked to were unaware of the disease and the dangers it poses to Humans. Amos Kasasa, a Ugandan found travelling to Guangzhou, a city in China indicated he doesn’t know of any outbreak that has far-reaching implications to Ugandans.

“My main issue is whether i can go to China for business. For as long as that is possible, i have nothing to worry about,” Kasasa says.

Evelyn Natukunda, another traveler says the spread of such virus cannot be a deterrence for travel. Natukunda says that for as long as she is not in contact with an infected person, there is no reason she would fear or be cautious.

Moses Muwanga, the Medical Superintendent at Entebbe Regional Referral Hospital says a team of seven health officers have also been dispatched to immediately handle any case that may arise within this period.

The World Health Organization on Thursday declared the outbreak a global emergency after cases were discovered in more than a dozen countries.



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