KAMPALA – Uganda has closed its doors on all people traveling from countries that are highly hit by the COVID 19 disease that is spreading like a wild fire across the world.
The countries affected by the decision fall under category one of the Ugandan ministry’s categorization criteria since they have the highest COVID 19 cases outside of China. The countries have also reported new cases in the last 24 hours. The affected countries are; China, France, Germany, Italy, Iran, South Korea and Spain.
Speaking during a press conference in Kampala on Saturday, Dr. Ruth Aceng, the minister of health said that government has decided to ask travelers from the affected countries not to travel to Uganda as the high cases they are reporting can easily be imported into the country.
She said that even Ugandans in these countries should remain where they are for the time being to avoid importation of the disease.
According to Dr. Aceng, if any people from the affected countries travel to Uganda during the period of the ban, they will have to undergo mandatory 14 day self-isolation at their own expense.
“If any people from these countries insist on coming, they will have to undergo mandatory self-isolation at their own cost in their homes or at a government designated facility,” said Dr. Aceng.
She also noted that the health ministry will closely observe travelers from UK, Switzerland, Norway, Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, India, and USA that have cases of COVID even when the rate of increase is not high.
In addition to putting travel restrictions, government has suspended all international conferences that were scheduled to take place in the country. When asked about how many conferences are likely to be affected, the minister said she did not know the exact number.
According to the minister, only one conference-the Uganda, European Business Forum that is scheduled to take place on March 9, 2020 at Speke Resort Munyonyo has been given the go ahead to take place. A total of 150 delegates were expected to attend the conference.
Uganda’s travel ban comes weeks after Kenya and Rwanda banned flights from different Chinese cities as a way of stopping the spread of the disease. While no case of COVID 19 has been reported within the East African bloc, the minister of health says that the measures are necessary to keep the disease out.
“COVID 19 is a new disease that has managed to affect the economies of first world countries like China. If it came to a third world country like Uganda, we would be finished,” said Dr. Aceng.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called the spread of the virus “deeply concerning” as a wave of countries reported on Saturday March 7, 2020 their first cases of the COVID-19 disease, which has now killed nearly 3,500 people and infected more than 101,828 across 92 nations and territories.
In South Korea, authorities reported hundreds of new cases of infections on Saturday, bringing the total above 7,000, while the United States was battling to contain an outbreak on the Grand Princess cruise ship where 21 people have tested positive for the virus.
In Africa, eight countries have reported cases. These are; Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Nigeria, Togo, Senegal and South Africa.