Uganda’s confirmed coronavirus cases have reached 61 after another truck driver was tested at the Malaba border point and tested positive.
“One new case has been confirmed today. The new case is a 32 year old Kenyan truck driver who arrived from Kenya at the Malaba border. The total confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Uganda are now 61. 1019 samples were tested today,” the Ministry of Health said in a tweet on Tuesday evening.
Dr. Henry Mwebesa, the Director General, Health Services said the driver didn’t show any signs and symptoms consistent with Covid-19.
This brings the number of trans-boundary cargo truck drivers to five who have tested positive to the deadly virus, including four Kenyans and a Tanzania, putting Uganda’s fight against the virus to test.
World Health Organisation international health regulations ask that every case is counted and treated in the country it was tested and confirmed and this means all the drivers truck drivers including the Kenyans and Tanzanian who had been returned to their home countries are counted in Uganda and this has seen the number jump to 61.
Several members of the public have since asked government to keep the truck drivers and their turnmen at the border as they wait for their results.
By Tuesday, five sex workers had been taken into quarantine in Soroti after coming into contact with a Kenyan truck driver who tested positive for Coronavirus on Sunday.
This came after the driver tested positive and authorities in Soroti started the search for the drivers’ contacts begun until five sex workers were identified and quarantined creating more fear among members of the public, especially those living along the highways and towns where truck drivers frequently stop.
While announcing the extension of the lockdown by three more weeks, President Museveni said government would now focus on testing truck drivers among other groups of people allowed to enter the country amid the lockdown.
The Health Minister, Dr.Jane Ruth Aceng had earlier defended the decision to let the drivers proceed with their journeys after being tested.
“They are transporting critical supplies that could save many lives during the lockdown, both locally and regionally,”Aceng said.
The Trade Minister, Amelia Kyambadde said the truck drivers will always be monitored and controlled from the time they are tested at the border until they exit the country.
“Once the driver gets into truck after being checked at the border entry point, there are designated points they are supposed to stop,” Amelia said.
The Minister explained that the drivers are not allowed to stop at non-designated points or towns and in case of this, the monitoring team alerts security in the respective area to take action.
However, when the driver arrives at the designated stopping points, the designated task force members in the area are alerted about the arrival and keep an eye on them (driver).
The designated task force members in that designated area should be alert about their arrival
“If he is stopping for something to drink or bite, it should not exceed 15 minutes. If he is sleeping over, security should monitor specific trucks in the designated points to stop any unnecessary movements,”Kyambadde said.
The president said on Sunday that there are specific guidelines issued to the truck drivers to stop them from interacting with people along the way noting that they(drivers) are expected to adhere to them.
“These are not babies but adults. We have told them what it is. We can’t kill the economy that we are protecting babies. If he (driver) is moving and tries to contact you, you say, please don’t come near me. This is not the end of the world,”Museveni said on Sunday.
“Let the man move and if we find out a problem, we shall track him. This is wiser so the economy moves and we can act later. If he links up with an idiot who doesn’t listen, we shall handle that.”