Coronavirus cases rise to nine, all Ugandan nationals

Departures terminal at Entebbe International Airport
Departures at Entebbe International Airport. The government banned international flights into or out of Uganda’s only international airport starting Monday, 23 March. Photo: Ministry of Health — Uganda (Facebook)

The number of confirmed Covid-9 coronavirus cases in Uganda has risen to nine after eight new infections were detected, the ministry of health said late on Monday.

The eight cases are all Ugandan nationals who flew back from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates — two on Friday, 20 March on an Emirates airline plane, and six on Sunday, 22 March on an Ethiopian Airlines flight.

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“To date, a total of 2,661 travellers, including Ugandans, identified as potential risks have been either under self-quarantine or institutional quarantine. Of these, 1,356 are under follow up; 774 are under institutional quarantine, while 582 are under self-quarantine,” the health ministry said on Twitter.

The ministry added that anyone who has been to Dubai in the past two weeks should call its toll-free hotlines on +0800100066 or +0800203033 for “further follow-up”.

Uganda’s first confirmed case of the coronavirus was identified on Saturday, 21 March after testing positive at about noon. The 36-year-old Ugandan male flew into the country from Dubai, arriving at 02:00, and was isolated after showing suspicious symptoms. The patient is “stable at Entebbe Grade B Hospital,” according to Dr Joyce Moriku Kaducu, the state minister for primary health care.

On Saturday, President Museveni announced tougher restrictions on movement into and out of the country to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Land and water borders were closed starting noon Sunday while air borders were ordered closed from midnight on Monday.

The only exceptions to the restrictions are cargo planes and their crew, and drivers plus at most two crew members of cargo transport vehicles.

In an earlier address on Wednesday, 18 March, Mr Museveni directed that all educational institutions close for a month starting that Friday, suspended church and mosque services, ordered the closure of bars and nightclubs, and put a stop to large public and social gatherings. The measures, put in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus, will run for 32 days from the day they were announced. 

“I would like to appeal to the general public to cooperate with the measures being taken by government to prevent further spread of Covid-19,” Jane Aceng, the minister for health, said in a statement Monday evening.

“In the same vein, we continue to appeal to the general public to remain calm and practice the preventive measures. Wash your hands always and maintain a social distance of 4 metres.”