The Ugandan government has said it will not evacuate students trapped in the Chinese city of Wuhan as the deadly Coronavirus continues to ravage the world.
In a statement on the floor of Parliament on Thursday afternoon, the Health Minister, Dr. Jane Aceng said government has decided to maintain the students in Wuhan city as their situation is closely being monitored.
“The World Health Organisation(WHO) has issued repatriation guidelines for countries to follow in the event that a political decision is taken to repatriate nationals. From the public health point of view, it is safer the keep the persons in Wuhan city,”Aceng told parliament.
She explained that the city is on lockdown and therefore traveling to and from Wuhan is prohibited but noted the Chinese government may not refuse to release nationals.
“However, guidance given by the World Health Organisation, countries are strongly advised to assess their capacity to handle the outbreak bearing in mind that repatriation of persons from Wuhan city into the country may be introducing the virus into the country,”Aceng said.
Ugandan students have always asked government to be evacuated from Coronavirus stricken Wuhan city which was the center of the outbreak of the deadly virus that has according to Chinese health authorities claimed lives of over 170 people whereas many others have tested positive of the virus.
However, the Health Minister said movements from homes where people are isolated to the airport don’t guarantee that the students may not get infected or even acquire infection from one another while on the plane.
“Therefore, decisions to repatriate them should take consideration of all this. Uganda does not have the capacity to handle the coronavirus outbreak in terms of isolation facilities in specialized equipment. The virus is new and spreads very fast.”
Dr.Aceng told parliament that the country is overstretched with outbreaks including the Ebola virus from the DRC which is still ongoing since 2018 and yellow fever in Buliisa,Moyo and Maracha.
She revealed the health workforce is very thin on the ground.
The Minister explained to legislators that several airlines were contacted about flights from China to Uganda but she said they were told, flights from Wuhan may not be possible since the city is on a lockdown.
Government said it is going to cater for the upkeep of the 105 students in Wuhan city by wiring $61800 which is approximately shs220 million to them.
“Our mission in Beijing is in contact with these students on a daily basis. They created a whatsapp group called ‘Wechat’ which enables them to chat. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also has contacts of the next of kin of these students.|