Foreign nationals and Ugandans returning from abroad are not being properly quarantined in the fight against Coronavirus, it has emerged.
Some foreigners who are under strict instructions to self-quarantine or register at a government-designated hotel to prevent the possible spread of Coronavirus simply walk away or continue going about their business.
For example, 8 Chinese recently arrived at Entebbe International Airport.
They were told to register at Central Inn, Entebbe for the mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Interestingly, these Chinese left Central Inn a few days later to Kampala.
Before the end of the quarantine exercise, these Chinese returned to Entebbe International Airport, saying they had booked tickets to travel to Nairobi, Kenya.
It’s understood aviation authorities blocked the Chinese’s travel before ordering them back to Central Inn.
It remains unclear if they indeed returned to the gazetted hotel. However, a Ugandan returnee who booked at the hotel said there wasn’t security to enforce the quarantine.
“We live by God’s grace,” the unidentified Uganda said as he recorded a video of Central Inn, adding, “If anybody wants to leave the facility, who would stop them?”
Video: #Coronavirus: Central Inn hotel which is gazetted as a ‘quarantine Centre’ is unguarded; allowing ‘quarantined’ travelers to walk out to enjoy beer and discotheque in Entebbe and Kampala pic.twitter.com/Buj9RZsfdj
— ChimpReports (@ChimpReports) March 18, 2020
Health Minister Dr Ruth Aceng recently said a total of 1,632 travelers including Ugandans and others traveling back home “have been identified as high risk and quarantined for purposes of follow up.”
Of these, said Aceng, 1071 are Chinese, 244 are Ugandans, 43 are Italians, 34 from South Korea and 484 are other nationals.
However, research conducted by ChimpReports indicates that without enforcement personnel, it’s almost impossible to simply order one to “self-quarantine” as they would just get bored and continue going about their business.
Some of the foreigners who are quarantined at Central Inn usually walk out the hotel to enjoy cold beer in Entebbe town.
Angelo Izama, a prominent researcher and former journalist, took pictures of Central Inn where Uganda is enforcing a quarantine for returning residents, wondering why citizens and others are being charged a staggering $1400 per person for the 14-day quarantine.
Here are scenes from Central Inn in Entebbe ( not sure who chose this facility or what criteria was used) where #Uganda is enforcing a quarantine for returning residents, citizens and others at their own cost ($1400 per person) #COVID2019 pic.twitter.com/KLDv6lJiUx
— Angelo Izama (@Opiaiya) March 18, 2020
“The assumption that people traveling abroad can afford to fork out $1400 is problematic,” said Izama, adding, “No one can say what financial circumstances individuals face. This policy is predatory at best.”
This investigative website also has learnt that the Ministry also took long to pick samples of a suspected Coronavirus case from Kanungu, South Western Uganda.
The patient started feeling unwell on March 11, 2020 but reported himself to the facility on Saturday, March 14, 2020.
Kanungu Health Inspector Kato Besisira said samples were sent to Kampala for testing on Sunday, March 15, more than 24 hours after the patient was isolated.
Experts say countering Coronavirus requires rapid reaction to such incidents. The results were released on Monday, showing the patient was free from Coronavirus.
“The speed of delivering samples to Kampala for testing is too low. Quick reaction saves lives,” said a source, emphasising, “Uganda needs an expansive isolation centre where all returnees and suspected cases can be quarantined and monitored. In Italy, cities were put under a lockdown – Uganda can’t take any chances.”
The revelations underscore the challenges the Health Ministry is grappling with in preparing the country to counter Coronavirus which has left a trail of death and destruction in many countries.
Uganda has no confirmed case of Coronavirus as all samples from persons who presented signs and symptoms of COVID 19 tested negative.
Coronavirus has so far killed 7,989 people across the world.