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Fear As Corona Virus Enters Uganda: 3 Chinese Quarantined In Mukono

By Keefa Nuwahereza

Untold fear has cropped among residents of  Seeta, Mukono after  health officials detected cases of the deadly Coronavirus in the area.

We have learnt that on Thursday morning health officials in Mukono district passed a resolution to quarantine three Chinese men who were suspected to be infected with Coronavirus.

According to residents, Zhong Hing, Wany Wen Xi, and Ni Side, all workers at China Star Company, were bleeding from the nose among other signs, before being rushed to a nearby medical facility.

The ministry of health spokesperson Emmanuel Ainebyoona this morning  confirmed that the ministry is closely monitoring these suspected coronavirus cases from their homes where they will be quarantined for at least 14 days.

The national death toll in mainland China now stands above 1,350 – with almost 60,000 cases in total.

However, members of Parliament have appealed for evacuation of Ugandans especially students in China in the midst of the deadly coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan province. Latif Sebaggala (MP Kawempe North) raised a matter of national importance during a plenary sitting on 11 February 2020, saying that he has received messages from students who are concerned about their plight.

According to the letter from the students read by Ssebagala, there has been general lack of necessities including groceries and masks. The students added that prices of groceries have been hiked making it hard to afford food.

In their letter, the five students appealed to government to use its diplomatic engagement with the Chinese government to allow for a timely evacuation.

“If other countries have evacuated their citizens, why can’t Uganda do so? We just need to ensure that they are quarantined when they return,” said Sebaggala.

Muhammad Nsereko ( Kampala Central Division MP) advised government to consider chartering a Uganda Airlines plane to evacuate citizens in China.

“This is not a matter that any of them (students) could have foreseen. We need to get them to safe passage and assess them for two weeks. Thailand has done it, Nigeria has done it, and the Senegalese have done it,” Nsereko said.

 Mbale Municipality MP, Hon Jack Wamanga-Wamai urged East African countries to work together to expatriate their students before they get exposed to the virus.

 “Uganda does not have a long range aircraft but Kenya does. The mission in Beijing cannot do anything. These are government students and the government is responsible for them when they are abroad,” Wamanga Wamai said.

 Attempts by the Government Chief Whip, Hon. Ruth Nankabirwa to assure MPs that government was handling the issue left legislators dissatisfied and  they called for an immediate intervention.

 Nankabirwa said that cabinet tasked the Health ministers and Uganda’s Ambassador to China to ensure the students are helped.

 “We are still weighing on evacuating them or sending logistics to help them where they are quarantined. We don’t want our children to continue suffering but we have to work with the government of China to accept our request,” she said, adding that, “we are taking this as a matter of urgency for the safety of the students and the safety of the 42 million Ugandans”.

Paul Mwiru (FDC, Jinja Municipality East) however, said that government should not be hesitant on evacuating the students. “Government is weighing whether to bring Ugandans to their country or to leave them to China and China takes a decision for them. We have ever seen government evacuate UPDF soldiers who were suffering from Ebola and were brought to Uganda. It is a duty of our country to secure Ugandans abroad,” he said.

Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga directed the Prime Minister to provide government’s strategy to help Ugandans in China on 12 February 2020.

“The situation is really bad, there is no food, the banks are closed, and there is no transport. They are going to starve. You should support all the children in universities with basics as you hold your night meetings,” said Kadaga.

She said the strategy should include immediate and ultimate interventions towards Ugandans in China.

 According to the World Health Organisation, the coronavirus is a strange type of virus that causes respiratory illness and quick deaths, although they are still investigating how it affects people, how they can be treated, and what countries can do to respond.

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