Four partner states of the East African Community (EAC) have agreed to maintain statistics on COVID-19 positive truck drivers reflected by the country of origin, the minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng has said.
She said the data will include that of the individuals found to have tested positive prior to the agreement reached by the ministers responsible for the respective health dockets.
The position was reached during an online consultative meeting between Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan and Rwanda
Recently, the number of Covid-19 positive cases in Uganda has been increasing drastically with an average of 10 positive cases per day for the last two weeks.
Most of these are cross border truck drivers operating in the region.
However, this figure could subsidize drastically as health ministries from Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan agreed to have information on the number of positive cases shared and reflected by the country of origin.
“This therefore means that the truck drivers we have been testing and asked to return to their country of origin when tested at the border should be recognised on the other side as part of their system,”Aceng said.
In a number of of occasions, Uganda has been contending against the inclusion of foreign truck drivers.
“We want to believe that this system will largely address the challenges we have been having around the issues of truck drivers and testing at the border which did not only caused unrest among the population in Uganda but also presented a big challenge as regional management of the pandemic,”she said.
Aceng noted that the regional ministers also adapted the resolution providing for the truck drivers to test for covid 19 hours ahead of planned trip.
She said the information of the results shall be shared among the states through a regional electronic cargo and truck drivers monitoring system.
“And we have agreed that the testing can be done 48 hours before the journey and the drivers will be quarantined within the system, so they will move a long the journey and their results will be viewed electronically among the members states whenever they go,”she said.
She also noted that there are penalties for the truck drivers who will go against agreed issues.
“If a truck driver stopped where he is not required to stop that is a penalty. If he carries somebody from the community that is penalty. If he delays to get to his designated stop place, it’s also a penalty,”Aceng said.
There was also a heated debate of repatriating positive individuals and on the entity that should bear the cost of testing as well as treatment.
Aceng said that the status quo will prevail for now in accordance with practice in its partner states.
South Sudan simply adapted the resolution reached by other states without its active participation while Burundi and Tanzania did not attend the meeting.