By Racheal Namuyanja
The Ministry of Health has put in place a committee to assess the necessity of upcoming national gatherings in the country. The committee is set to assess the risks and possible outcomes and later give a report on the measures to be taken; whether to suspend, re-schedule or hold the events.
International conferences such as the international conference on peace, humanitarian aid and service (ICPHAS) and G-77 conference to be held in Uganda in March and April hang in balance.
This follows cancellation of several international conferences and events around the globe due to outbreak of the Coronavirus.
Events such as the Mobile World Congress that was scheduled to take place in Barcelona, Facebook’s global marketing summit, the Chinese grand prix, China’s national people’s congress, religious pilgrimages in Saudi Arabia and a couple of matches over the weekend were cancelled.
While addressing the media, Dr Joyce Moriku Kaducu, minister of state for health and primary health care, said the team will advise government on the international events since they will involve people coming from infected countries.
“Uganda still maintains to its open door policy and this puts it at a high risk of acquiring the virus from travellers from infected countries.” said Kaducu.
The minister also said, prevention is the main way of stopping the spread of the virus and therefore the public should adhere to the preventive measures put in place following World Health Organisation’s directive declaring Coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern to all member states of which Uganda is part.
“People should avoid hand shaking, hugging, and close contact with people who are visibly sick with flue and when sick with flu like symptoms, avoid going to public places.” said Kaducu
In addition to the dos and don’ts, the ministry of health together with the ministry of water and environment as well as development partners will this month launch a campaign towards cleaning our environment and maintain good hygiene and sanitation so as to avoid some of these preventable diseases.
Uganda has so far isolated 722 travellers as Uganda takes preventive measures to avoid the spread of the deadly virus. Of these 499 are Chinese nationals, 150 are Ugandan citizens while 73 are other nationals. 41% of these people have completed their mandatory days of self isolation. additionally 10 suspected cases of Coronavirus disease have been tested and all tested negative.
Action taken by the ministry
1. The ministry of health has enhanced surveillance measures for all travelers from COVID-19 affected countries. Currently with guidance from world health organization (WHO), all travelers from countries with higher number of cases are required to undertake 14days of mandatory self-isolation. So far the ministry of health has flagged China, Japan, republic of South Korea, Islamic republic of Iran, Thailand, Italy, Germany, France and Singapore.
2. All high risk travelers under isolation are monitored daily by ministry of health surveillance teams. Travelers who develop symptoms during follow-up period are checked, samples taken, tested and advised on appropriate care.
3. Ministry of health continues to engage media outlets and other communication channels to disseminate public information on COVID. Developed information materials for educating the public on the disease and these materials are now available in different languages.
4. Screening at Entebbe International Airport and all other border points of entry has been strengthened with deployment of additional health workers, equipment and infection prevention materials.
5. Entebbe and Naguru referral hospitals as well as Mulago national referral hospital Grade A have been prepared to receive and manage suspected and confirmed cases. In addition, all regional referral hospitals are being prepared to manage people who might fall sick. Ambulances have been provided to transport suspected cases to the appropriate level of care.
6. The Uganda Virus Research institute has the necessary equipment and reagents to test and confirm any suspected COVID-19 sample in the country. The ministry of health has also mobilized a mobile laboratory facility for additional testing capacity. Training for usage of this facility has been completed and arrangement for its use is being set.
Edited by David Tumusiime