The presence of COVID-19 in the Democratic Republic of Congo is not something that Ugandans need to be worried about, according to the Ministry of Health. The country reported one case of the highly contagious disease in the capital-Kinshasha on Wednesday.
The infected person is of Belgian origin and was discovered at the airport. According to the health minister in DRC, the country is currently carrying out contact tracing of all persons that are likely to have come into contact with the infected person.
While Uganda’s proximity to DRC is a cause for worry given the ease with which nationals from both countries cross the borders to and from Uganda, the Ministry of Health says that this is nothing to worry about.
Previous disease outbreaks like the Ebola Virus Disease that have hit DRC have spilled into Uganda. But Health Minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng told URN in an interview that the one imported case of COVID-19 in DRC is not worrying because the chances of the disease being imported to Uganda are very low.
However she hastens to add that this does not mean that Uganda should not put up measures to stop the spread of the disease. One of the most recent measures that the government is carrying out is the ban on hugs and handshaking. The government has set up screening points at six entry points; Entebbe, Chanika, Elegu, Busia, Malaba and Mpondwe.
“Even if this should not be a cause for worry, we need to continue making sure that all Ugandans are safe. As such we have banned handshaking and hugging. We are also working with CAA to carry out disinfectant spraying of all travelers who enter the country,” she said.
Dr Yonas Woldermariam, the World Health Organization country representative says that Kinshasha is very far away from Uganda for there to be a reason for worry. He says they are working hard to ensure that all major points of entry are secured.
A study carried out by the Lancet shows that Uganda is one of many countries that are likely not to be hit by COVID-19 due to the number of flights that leave the country to go to China. While majority of the country’s flights are made to Beijing which is not heavily hit by the virus, Uganda still allows air carriers that fly to China to land in the country.
Dr Aceng says that while some countries have banned air travel, Uganda cannot stop some of these flights from entering the country.