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Uganda confirms first COVID-19 case

Ministry of Health and World Health Organisation officials prepare to brief the country late Saturday about the first Ugandan case. PHOTO MOH

▶ Timeline of Uganda response to #COVID19 #CoronaVirus
✳ Jan 20 – Screening starts of all passengers arriving at Entebbe Airport
✳ Jan 30 – The WHO declares COVID-19 outbreak a public health emergency
✳ Jan 31 – Ministry of Health officials meet Chinese Amb Zheng Zhu Qiang
✳ Feb 1 – PM Rugunda chairs inter-ministerial meeting
✳ Feb 3 – President Museveni sets example, screened at Entebbe arrivals
✳ Feb 3 – 2nd meeting between MOH and Chinese Amb
✳ Feb 3 – Uganda’s Cabinet discusses virus outbreak
✳ Feb 5 – Minister of Health Aceng updates the public
✳ Feb 11 – MOH update Statement on preparedness
✳ Feb 19 – MOH issues detailed guidelines on how to prevent virus
✳ Feb 21 – Screening starts at Malaba and Busia border points
✳ Feb 26 – MOH Press brief, no suspected or confirmed case of #COVID19 in Uganda
✳ Feb 26 – Minister of Health Aceng briefs press
✳ March 2 – ICT Minister Nabakooba releases ministerial statement
✳ March 2 – MOH- all international conferences postponed
✳ March 8 – 22 Europeans coming for a conference sent back home after they refused to self quarantine
✳ March 11 – MOH restricts travel and puts quarantine on arrivals from 16 high risk countries including US & UK
✳ March 12 – Uganda restricts travel to countries hit by COVID 19
✳ March 13 – MOH releases guidelines to schools
✳ March 18 – President Museveni statement to the nation
✳ March 18 – Schools to be closed, Weddings, burials, church gatherings all suspended
✳ March 20 – Samples from 7 suspected cases Kampala and Kanungu Districts test negative
✳ March 21 – National multi denominational Prayers held at State House
✳ March 21 – President Museveni 2nd address | Uganda closes borders to human traffic, stops flights
✳ March 21 – Uganda confirms first case of COVID 19

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Ministry of Health has confirmed the first case of Covid-19 in Uganda.

The case is a 36-year-old Ugandan, a resident of Kakungulu Zone, Kibuli in Kampala, who returned home Saturday morning (2.00am) aboard Ethiopian Airlines from Dubai. He traveled out of Ugandan on March 17 for business.

On his return, he presented with symptoms of high fever and poor appetite. His temperature was at 38 degrees centigrade, prompting the authorities to isolate him for further tests, which later proved positive, according to Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng.

He is now isolated at Entebbe Grade B Hospital.

“The passenger manifest has been retrieved and all contacts are known as we are in possession of the passports of all the travelers that came on that plane,” said Minister Ruth Aceng.

The declaration came just moments after President Yoweri Museveni announced that Entebbe International Airpirt and all Ugandan Borders will be closed from midnight tomorrow to stop passengers coming into Uganda from any part of the world.

“Humans crossing into Uganda from the different border points are also prohibited going forward”, the president said, as part of the additional measure to contain the virus, which has paralyzed the globe.

Todate, there are 1827 travelers under both self and institutional quarantine in Uganda. A number of these are Ugandan nationals.

Chinese escape quarantine, arrested in Zombo

Elsewhere, Eight Chinese who had escaped from quarantine in Entebbe Friday, have been arrested in Goli Zombo, enroute to DRC.

The Chinese, and their Ugandan collaborators, are expected to be charged in Arua High Court on Monday, a day after Uganda halted accepting any more foreigners through its airport after abuse of the quarantine arrangement the ministry of health and organised.

This was hours before Uganda declared its first confirmed COVID-19 case, a Ugandan who flew back home today aboard Ethiopian Airlines.

Uganda Police Chief Political Commissar AIGP Asan  Kasingye confirmed the arrests, saying on twitter that ” 8 Chinese who had escaped from quarantine have been arrested in Zombo, enroute to D.R Congo. They will be charged in our Courts of law. Good job Uganda Police.”

Later, President Yoweri Museveni announced that government has closed Uganda’s borders and banned international flights and water vessels into the country.

While addressing the nation, President Museveni said then that it’s by God’s mercy that Uganda had not yet confirmed a case of COVID 19 by Saturday morning.

According to the President, the only flights that will be allowed into the country are cargo planes and emergency plane like  UN planes carrying aid. Domestic flights can also continue.

However, the crews on these planes will be expected to undergo institutional  quarantine.

Cargo vehicles will also be allowed to enter the country. However only three people will be allowed to enter the country per vehicle.

The President said that the country decided to ban all travel due to reluctancy of travelers to adhere to the quarantine measures.

President Museveni  also called upon all Local council leaders to confine people that might enter the country using porous borders.



 Kampala, 21 March 2020:– The Ministry of Health would like to inform the general public that Uganda has confirmed her 1st case of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).

The confirmed case is a 36 year old Ugandan male who arrived from Dubai today, Saturday 21st March 2020 aboard Ethiopian Airlines at 2:00am. During the screening process at the airport, his temperature was 38.7. This prompted the health teams to isolate him at the airport for further follow up. Subsequent temperatures taken at intervals of 30 minutes and one hour remained the same. He was evacuated to Entebbe Grade B Hospital for further follow up where a nasal swab was taken for analysis.

The confirmed case presented with high fever and poor appetite. He is not coughing neither did he have flu. However, the persistent fever prompted the health workers to isolate him.

His nasal swab samples was sent to Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) for analysis. Results from UVRI showed the sample is positive for COVID-19.

The confirmed case had travelled to Dubai on the 17th of March, 2020 (four days ago) for business purposes. At the time of his travel, he was in good health. He is a resident of Kibuli, Kagungulu zone, Kampala.

However, to date a total of 1,827 travelers including Ugandans and others travelling back home have been identified as coming from high-risk countries for purposes of follow up. About 827 are completing self-quarantine while about 1,000  are under quarantine.

The Ministry of Health reassures the general public that all measures were undertaken to identify this case at the airport and isolate him in a timely manner. The passenger manifest has been retrieved and all contacts are known as we are in position of the passports of all the travelers that came on that plane.

The public is hereby requested to remain calm and vigilant and to report any suspected cases, call our toll-free lines on 0800-203-033 and 0800-100-066 or the following officers – Mr. Atek Kagirita 0782 909 153, Dr. Allan Muruta- 0772 460 297.

Dr. Aceng Jane Ruth




  1. Waiswa Asadullah

    May de almighty Allah protect us

  2. Saddened Ugandan

    First wait.

    You want to say that all the airport staff who came into contact with him and the other passengers who arrived on the same flight have not been isolated?

    That they have been left to mix with the general public on a weekend after being directly exposed to this highly infectious virus?

    As if people are not understanding or I am the one who is not understanding the nature and seriousness of this virus?

    How will all those who interacted with him be tracked and isolated? And after 12 hours, how will all those who interacted with all these who interacted with him be tracked and isolated?

  3. Saddened Ugandan

    The official communication says:

    “However, to date a total of 1,827 travelers including Ugandans and others travelling back home have been identified as coming from high-risk countries for purposes of follow up. About 827 are completing self-quarantine while about 1,000 are under quarantine.”



    What does for purposes of follow up mean? At what stage is this follow up going to happen? That we first wait for the virus to spread and then we follow up after the fact?

    Why is it ‘about’ 827? If there is any uncertainty in the actual number does that mean that the list of names, addresses and contacts for following up does not even exist? What kind of follow up can be done without absolute certainty of their particulars when we are not even sure of the exact numbers?

    How much trouble are we in? Is there anybody who can take charge of this situation before things spiral out of control?

  4. I think i agree with SU…ALL those that were on board should have been quarantined under strict/ special observation

  5. Corona virus better knw that we ugandan nt chinese if you have lost direction better tell us we are free to show you way to wuhan city please please please?

  6. He was on a flight with other people…. Uganda is just so reluctant… Flights would have been stopped weeks back he was on a flight with other people and are those people in quarantine????
    The next thing to do is to stop work places
    Coz this thing is now going to Kik Ugandans because of carelessness

    • That’s the truth… Infact those who were conducting tests should have been jailed coz the nature of carelessness is very high.. The mates on the airline shd have undergone a quarantine atleast… May B they we’re bribed

  7. If people are not allowed to move to markets,how will the third world peopl(the poor)get food yet they dont have enough money to store food.I’d beg the gov’t to help us with provisions to minimise movements&overcome this demon the virus.

    • oh yes I rili second this, the president is not tackling any thing about caring for his people, prices are rising every minute and his saying nothing. God Museveni u have failed us for the 100th time. government cant even provide simple face masks and sanitizers, they are just watching as prices of every thing goes to the pick.

  8. Is this true that passengers who came together with this covid-19 victim were not quarantined and freely allowed in public? What a great mistake! Please, Dr. Aceng, move very fast.

  9. Masereka Anderson

    Now how are you going to deal with those who came with the patient directly from Dubai and those who have already interacted with others who come from the same place

  10. It would be better to close the borders before confirming a case and distribution of test kits at the borders and health facilities.

  11. God have mercy to uganda. Help the MOH And the gov’t. Public its atest of time and we need GOD

  12. Baluku John Skirk

    If the incubation period is 14 days, the said man traveled abroad on 17th 4 days back an indication that the victim traveled with the virus.

  13. we have to pray to God in this situation

  14. It’s very important to read what the honorable minister Dr Ruth Aceng said carefully without making rush judgments. In addition, I suggest that you all watch the full video of the announcement and listen carefully.

  15. please lets be serious to check all people who were in that plane to curb this covid19

  16. May the good Lord help us.

  17. Check up should be followed seriously even when the passenger is boarding the plane in different country to come back home.

  18. Uganda is no serous the president has stop all planes from landing.due to corruption we have used to.the airport official has allow that fack Ethiopian airline to land o Entebbe soil.who to brame.
    Remember planes are not like taxis and bodaboda.
    Ug corruption.pliz let’s following laws.immagi there are schools still open.Uganda pliz be serious I’m warning you.

  19. Check up should be followed seriously even when the passengers are boarding the plane in different country to come back home.

  20. Ssengendo dorothy

    Lets pray to d almighty God protect us from this but still its better now to close all the working places including daily markets and to reduse on the mobilemoney charges sothat we use that instead of handcash because this virus is more than serious!

  21. Oyirwoth Solomon

    May the almighty father in heaven be the one to save his own world amen

  22. Take note: This Ugandan left for Dubai on March 17, 2020. This means that he spent just 4 days in Dubai. But the disease can take up to a week or longer before symptoms appear in the patient! It could well be that by the time he left Uganda he was already infected and possibly passed the virus to other people as well. Do some research on this first case and test more cases before it gets out of hand!

  23. Kidega Denis Enock

    Your Excellency, Museveni. Continue to trust only God for the health and safety of the people under your leadership as you have started that is wisdom in the highest order God is merciful He will listen your prayer and act in rescue.

    Hon. Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, we know you are not sleeping, working day and night with your team for our safety be strong, faithful and stable and do the needful in serving your country.

    Fellow Ugandans and our dear visitors caught up in this situation let’s be cautious and leave carefully following every medically technical guidance and directives, they are for our own good. I was shocked today in Kisoro town to see UPDF forcing people who are crowded in bars drinking alcohol to dispers despite directives from president and technocrats on dangerous gatherings.
    Romans 13 should teach us all, let’s join hands together in this battle.
    May the good Lord have mercy on us all, and keep us under His wings like a hen and it’s chicks, Amen.

  24. president museveni what went wrong again i thought you had closed all the boarders of the country, since the virus grew in china.

  25. All people from kibuli should remain wherever they are 4 check up coz it seems that man left there 4 Dubai with the virus.

  26. We need prayers

  27. Government and the army should test all the people who got in contact with the 9 people who tested positive.

  28. Let’s hire a school and forcefully detain and screen afresh all Ugandans and other nationals who have returned in the last 1 month.

  29. Kinyera Innocent

    The disease itself may not claim more than 100 ugandans llives but hunger/famine due to costly comodities, oh God send ur holy angels to help

  30. Saddened Ugandan

    We are in a lot more trouble than I thought.

    That there are “about” 827 people in so called “self-quarantine” means that we have been depending on 800 people to carry the responsibility of ensuring our national security.

    “About” 827 random unknown people all of whom could be infected without symptoms yet actively spreading this highly infectious virus as after being dispersed across the country from the airport.

    And now, days after, the ministry has “appealed” …to only those who have recently travelled from Dubai, never mind all the other passengers on other planes from other countries, just a sample of the “about” 827.

    Things are bad. We need to urgently track down all those who entered Uganda this month, isolate them in the communities where they might have been infecting others, and begin aggressively testing those individuals and then the communities where positive test results have been found from individual travelers.

    That such action is expensive and hard work? These are all relative, and if decisive action is not taken urgently, then there will be no amount of hard work or money that can save our country. Find the money. Do the hard work.

    We remain vigilant, prayerful and patriotic.

  31. Saddened Ugandan

    Also… we now know that screening is a waste of time because screening just checks for symptoms yet symptoms are not needed for infected people to spread the virus.

    If we have been depending on mere screening then that means we have been sending many more “false negatives” into the public and helping this virus to spread by giving people fake assurances that they are clear based on mere screening.

    We must start testing thousands of identified clustered groups rapidly.

    Please. Find money and become aggresive with testing and isolation.

    It’s late but it’s not too late.

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