Health ministry wrongly announced arrival of 300 Ugandans

Entebbe International Airport. Courtesy Photo/File

Kampala, Uganda – The Ministry of Health erroneously announced that Uganda will on today, June 13th receive the first group of passengers arriving from abroad following the Coronavirus lockdown worldwide.

Health Minister Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng was today addressing a press conference on the status of COVID-19 in the country at Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) when she made the announcement.

She stated that 300 people would be arriving on Saturday 13th June and the Ministry of Health is ready to quarantine them. She said people will be arriving every after two weeks.

Aceng said that an elaborate plan has been worked on to ensure all returnees undergo the COVID-19 screening and also mandatory institutional quarantine for 14 days at their own cost.

She says the screening team is ready at the airport awaiting the Ugandans returning. Aceng also says there are 16 quarantine centres prepared for use for the returning passengers. However her statements did not include the origin of the travellers and the flight details.

URN has however learnt that this statement was made erroneously. Both officials from the Ministry of Health, and the Civil Aviation Authority confirmed that there are no flights coming in to bring a large number of Ugandans.

“She read a statement that communicated an earlier date, of 13th June, but this was not edited. The Ministry is going to clarify on this, no Ugandan is coming in today, but they will be coming in a few weeks to come,” a source privy to the information told URN.

Emmanuel Ainebyona, the Spokesperson Ministry of Health had earlier told URN that the flight coming in has people from different countries, but URN confirmed from the Ministry of Health who say the statement was erroneously read.

According to the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health, they communicated based on what the Ministry of Foreign Affairs provided them earlier.

“I don’t have those details, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the one that has more information since they have been coordinating this activity. She must have mentioned it based on what the Foreign affairs was saying,” Diana Atwine told URN on phone.

When contacted, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Henry Okello Oryem says he was not aware of the return of the Ugandans, saying that he was to consult with the Permanent secretary.

URN had earlier on in the week spoken to Oryem who said that government was not yet set to receive the Ugandans returning.

A Ugandan student stuck in the United States told URN on phone that they were not aware of any evacuations in the US, the Middle East and the UK, and that the embassies had not communicated to them anything.

“The 300 Ugandans returning is false, the Ministry of Health and Foreign Affairs all say they are not ready, there are also no flights, and the embassy have not communicated to us, the Ministry has been lying to us for the past two months and nothing has so far happened,” says the student.

James Eyul, the CAA medical officer says that they are set with the buses to transport the people to the quarantine centres and they are also ready to screen people at the Airport. He says that they have always been receiving some people at the airport especially the emergency cases and officials from abroad.

Although an Ethiopian Airline flight ETH8332 was seen in Uganda’s Airspace today, URN could not confirm the details of the flight, but sources say an estimated 50 emergency cases had come into the country. Ethiopian Airlines has been making frequent trips to the country.

Although several Ugandans abroad are longing to come back home. There seems to be hope for Ugandans in India, who may return with later this month. Already Indians stranded in Uganda are slated to travel back on Fly Dubai flights out of Entebbe International Airport on June 16th and 18th respectively to Mumbai and Delhi.


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