Kampala, 20 February 2020: – The Ministry of Health working with partners has concluded investigations into rumours that have been circulating on social media alleging that there is a suspected case of the 2019 novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in construction camps both in Buliisa and Masindi districts.
A joint Ministry of Health, World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) surveillance team visited 4 construction camps in Masindi- Paraa road and the 5th camp in Buliisa and established that:
1. The rumor was a false alert – the community mistook self-isolation by Chinese construction workers as hiding sick people.
2. The Chinese national alleged to have contracted the COVID-19 was referred to Pakwach Hospital and found to have Malaria. He was treated and has fully recovered.
3. The team visited 5 camps; 4 camps are in Masindi along the Masindi- Paraa road while the fifth camp, Buliisa camp is located in Buliisa along the same road.
4. All Chinese nationals in the construction camps in Buliisa and surrounding areas are accounted for. There are five camps with 167 Chinese nationals including 25 who are currently in China.
5. There are five people under self-isolation who were physically observed and evaluated by the surveillance team. Out of the five, three have complete isolation today, one completes tomorrow 21st February 2020 while another completes isolation after one week. None of them has signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
6. The surveillance teams will continue to monitor the communities for any signs and symptoms via the established district systems.
Currently, Uganda has no suspect or confirmed case of the COVID-19. As of today, 444 travellers have been advised to be in self- isolation and followed-up daily to monitor their situation and offer assistance in case of need. Of these, 121 are Ugandans, 307 are Chinese and 16 are other nationals. Fifty-eight (58) have completed the 14 days follow-up.
Global situational update
Most of the COVID-19 cases (99%) are in China, that is, 74,280 cases with 2,006 deaths. Outside China, there have been 924 confirmed cases in 25 countries and 3 deaths in the Philippines, Japan and France. Only one case has been confirmed on the African continent in Egypt.
The Ministry of Health appeals to all people especially travellers from the affected countries to cooperate with health workers and practice the following preventive measures:
1. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water regularly for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer.
2. Avoid close contact with people who are visibly sick with flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, sneezing and running nose).
3. Cover your nose and mouth when coughing.
4. Sneeze in a tissue or a flexed elbow.
5. Thoroughly cook meat and eggs.
6. Avoid unprotected contact with live wild or farm animals.
7. Avoid handshakes for whatever reason including greeting one another.
The Ministry of Health continues to take the necessary steps to prepare for COVID-19 with support from WHO and other partners. WHO encourages all countries to prepare for a potential arrival of cases, to treat patients with dignity and compassion, to prevent onward transmission, and to protect health workers. There is still a chance of preventing COVID-19 from becoming a broader global crisis.
The Ministry of Health further appeals to the general public to remain calm and vigilant and always verify information from the Ministry of Health to avoid rumours and misinformation. The public is also advised to report any suspected cases to the nearest health facility or call our toll-free lines on 0800-203-033 and 0800-100-066, and the following officers- Mr. Atek Kagirita- 0782 909 153, Dr. Allan Muruta- 0772 460 297 and Dr. Opar Benard- 0772 469 323
For Additional Information or to Request Interviews, Please contact:
Public Relations Officer
Ministry of Health
Tel: +256 77 922 0588
Health Promotion Advisor
Tel. : +256 414 335505
Cell: +256 772 507906
Public Information Officer
Tel. : +256 414 335569
Cell: +256 786 497073