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Uganda intensifies COVID-19 prevention measures after outbreak in neighboring countries

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Uganda has intensified preventive measures against COVID-19 after neighboring Kenya, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) registered confirmed cases.

The Ministry of Health said on Sunday that it has set up a toll free line to report any suspected cases of COVID-19 and disseminate information about the disease.

The country has already received equipment worth about 200 million shillings (about 55,000 U.S. dollars) to help prevent the virus’ spread.

There is ongoing screening at the country’s border entry points, including the Entebbe International Airport, Malaba and Busia at the border with Kenya, Cyanika at the border with Rwanda, and Elegu at the border with South Sudan.

The DRC has reported two confirmed cases so far while Kenya registered its first case on Friday. In Rwanda, an Indian national who travelled into the country on March 8 was diagnosed with the disease, the Health Ministry said on Saturday.

The Ministry of Health has already issued an alert to travellers from 16 high risk countries in Europe and other parts of the world to suspend their visits to Uganda, or prepare for a 14-day self-quarantine at their cost.

Quarantine sites at Entebbe and Naguru referral hospitals have been set up to receive any suspected cases. According to the ministry, other quarantine sites are under construction across the country.

Local authorities asked schools to enforce preventive measures, including offering hand sanitizers, avoiding overcrowding in class and dormitories, and introducing virus-related information to students.

Social media, newspapers, radio and television stations are also awash with preventive measures against COVID-19.

Last week, the authorities also urged leaders of religious institutions to inform congregations about COVID-19. Meanwhile, military health workers conducted training on containing the spread.

Lt. Deo Akiiki, deputy military spokesperson, told Xinhua the training was critical since the military is under obligation to respond to emergencies.

Health Minister Ruth Aceng told reporters on Wednesday that Uganda was in touch with China to get information regarding disease prevention and control.

“The Chinese have been very supportive in sharing information with us regarding the situation in China and the Chinese nationals that come into the country, and supporting us in following them up to ensure that they strictly follow the 14-day self-quarantine,” the minister said.

Yonas Woldemariam, World Health Organization country representative to Uganda also told reporters that Uganda and other African countries should cooperate with China.

“China is looking to get out of this outbreak. They have the capacity, they have the materials, and they could support Africa.” Woldemariam said.

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