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COVID-19: Dr Atwine Warns on Christmas Travel

Ugandans planning to travel to the countryside for the festive season should postpone their trips to prevent further spread of COVID-19, a senior Health Ministry official has cautioned.

“As we work to stem the spread of covid-19, you are encouraged not to travel for Xmas holidays because you don’t know your status,” said Dr Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary, Health Ministry this Friday morning.

“Protect your loved parents by staying around this festive season,” she added, in reference to Kampala city dwellers.

Majority of Kampala residents leave the city in December to celebrate the annual festivities with their loved ones in rural areas across Uganda.

However, as cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to increase across Uganda, the safest way to celebrate the festive season is to celebrate at home with the people you live with.

High or increasing levels of COVID-19 cases in the gathering location, as well as in the areas where attendees are coming from, increase the risk of infection and spread among attendees.

The deadly virus has so far claimed 219 lives in Uganda.

1,199 cases of COVID-19, the highest in a single day since the outbreak of the pandemic earlier this year, were confirmed on December 8.

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Airports, bus stations, train stations, public transport, fuel stations, and rest stops are all places travelers can be exposed to the virus in the air and on surfaces.

Defiant asymptomatic patients

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has noted with concern that positive asymptomatic patients who have been allowed to undergo home-based care are not adhering to the guidelines.

“They have been found mixing with the community such as using public transport, in work places, markets etc,” said Dr Henry Mwebesa, Director General Health Services.

Asymptomatic patients are laboratory-confirmed cases infected with COVID-19 but who do not develop symptoms.

However, said Mwebesa, “even with no symptoms, they still spread the infection.”

The Ministry of Health has since directed all COVID-19 asymptomatic patients to isolate themselves at home or be admitted at designated auxiliary centers.

“This means that they should not mix with their family members, colleagues or friends for a period of 14 days. The asymptomatic patients should strictly follow guidelines for Home-Based Care which have been widely disseminated and also available on the Ministry of Health website,” he emphasised.

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