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COVID-19 Crisis: Refugee from Tanzania Tests Positive in Uganda as Cases Rise to 56

Uganda has confirmed a new case of Coronavirus, bringing to 56 the total number of infections in the country, Chimp Corps report.

The Health Ministry said in a brief statement late Monday night, “the new case is 46-year-old Burundian refugee who arrived from Tanzania and was quarantined in Rakai district.”

There are fears Tanzania could become a new epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the East African region.

Tanzanian Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu said 84 new cases and 3 new deaths were confirmed this past Monday.

Tanzania, which registered its first case long after its neighbours, 257 cases – the second highest number of cases in East Africa.

Kenya leads with 281 cases and 14 deaths while Rwanda has 147 confirmed infections.

The Burundian case in Uganda was detected after 1,177 samples were tested yesterday.

The media recently reported about the growing alarm over the virus taking hold among Uganda’s large refugee population – with devastating consequences.

“I fear a high death toll if the virus reaches the settlements,” Julius Kasozi, public health officer with the United Nations’s refugee agency (UNHCR) in Uganda, was quoted by AlJazeera. 

Older people are already more susceptible to COVID-19 because of their weakened immune system and increased propensity for underlying health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer.

But older people living in difficult conditions in refugee camps, with little access to food, water and health care, are extremely at risk.

Uganda hosts the largest refugee population in Africa with 1,411,098 refugees and asylum seekers as of 29 Feb 2020.

13 districts of Adjumani, Arua, Moyo, Yumbe, Lamwo, Kiryandongo, Kyegeegwa, Kamwenge, Isingiro, Obongi, Koboko, Kikuube host refugees in 30 settlements plus 79,958 others in Kampala City.

Up until recently (21 March, 2020) when the president burred any further entry into the country, Uganda has been accommodating refugees from several countries of South Sudan, DRC and Burundi.

Whereas Uganda has an open door policy for refugees and asylum seekers, President Museveni recently suspended receiving of new arrivals until the pandemic is controlled.

Several measures being implemented in refugee camps including frequent hand washing, use of sanitisers and no mass gatherings.

Back and forth movements between Uganda and countries of origin for purposes of farming, checking on relatives were prohibited in refugee communities to contain the spread of her virus.

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