The number of COVID-19 cases in Uganda has risen to 227 after another 24 truck drivers tested positive on Saturday.
The 24 cases include 14 Kenyan truck drivers, 6 Tanzanians and four Ugandans who entered the country via the South Sudan border at Elegu, Tanzania border at Mutukula and Kenya border at Malaba.
Of the total 227 confirmed coronavirus cases in Uganda, 167 (74 per cent) are from truck drivers consisting of 71 Kenyans, 46 Ugandans, 37 Tanzanians, 7 Eritreans, 3 Burundians, one South Sudanese, one Rwandans and one unknown.
Saturday’s new 24 confirmed cases were part of 2,044 samples that were tested on Saturday at both the Mutukula points of entry using the GeneXpert machines and Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) at Entebbe.
Dr Monica Musenero, an epidemiologist and a disease outbreak presidential adviser says that the use of the GeneXpert machines will help reduce worry about truck drivers.
“Many Ugandans have been worried about truck drivers spreading the disease. The use of the GeneXpert machines is welcome because only negative truck drivers will be allowed to enter the country. The chances of positive drivers interacting with people have been reduced,” she said.
Earlier on Saturday, government through the ministries of Health, ICT and national guidance announced that positive truck drivers will henceforth not be allowed to proceed with their journeys as has been the case previously. Minister of Health Jane Ruth Aceng said President Museveni directed that only truck drivers with negative test results be allowed into the country.
Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta announced similar measures on Saturday while announcing the extension of the country’s lockdown by a further 21 days to June 6. The extension led to sporadic protests in parts of Nairobi.
Kenya’s cases rose to 830 after 49 new people tested positive on Saturday. The number of recoveries rose to 301 after a further 17 patients recovered and got discharged after testing negative. Kenyatta said Kenya had denied entry to 78 foreign drivers who tested positive for COVID-19 disease.
“If we do not take additional precautionary measures and get even more serious in implementing existing guidelines, the number of people who will get sick and die is going to rise sharply…All drivers of the cargo vehicles shall be subjected to mandatory COVID-19 disease testing and will only be granted entry into the territory of the Republic of Kenya if they test negative,” said Kenyatta.
Rwanda’s cases rose to 289 after another two positive cases on Saturday. Rwanda also registered one more recovery to add on the previous 177. A total of 2,041 samples were tested on Saturday.