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Uganda Among Countries Not Likely to Acquire Coronavirus from China-Lancet Report

The study titled, ‘Preparedness and Vulnerability of African Countries against Importations of COVID-19: Modelling Study’ shows that countries within the East Africa bloc have moderately low chances of getting the disease from China

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A study carried out by Lancet shows that Uganda is one of many countries that face the lowest risk of being infected by the Coronavirus.

The study which was carried out by using data on the volume of air travel departing airports in the infected provinces in China and directing it to Africa to estimate the risk of the importation per country shows that Uganda, Burundi, South Sudan and Rwanda have low risks of being infected by the disease.

The study titled, ‘Preparedness and Vulnerability of African Countries against Importations of COVID-19:  Modelling Study’ shows that countries within the East Africa bloc have moderately low chances of getting the disease from China.

Majority of the flights 47.8 percent that are made from the three countries are to Beijing, followed by 30.5 percent to Guangdong and 14.7 percent to Shanghai.

Data from the World Health Organization-WHO shows that the provinces have some of the lowest number of infected persons. As of March 4, 2020, Beijing had 417 cases while Shanghai had 338. Guangdong had the highest number of cases with 1350.

Even with the low risk, the ministry of health is asking government for Shs 25 billion to increase its preparedness and be ready to address any future cases that might enter the country.

Dr Allan Muruta, the commissioner in charge of Epidemiology Surveillance and Public Health Emergencies at the ministry of health says that despite their low risk to being infected, they need to be ready for any eventuality.

Muruta says that even with no funds, they are going ahead to carry out some preventive measures such as screening, limiting public assemblies and sensitizing the public using different avenues.

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Public awareness messages are asking people to avoid being in crowded places and also to carry out proper handwashing practices as a way of keeping the disease at bay.

In addition to this, two isolation centres one in Entebbe and the other in Kampala at Naguru General Hospital have been set up to handle any cases that might arise. The isolation centres have a total bed capacity of 15 people.

Since WHO declared a coronavirus outbreak, the government of issued a travel advisory to all Ugandan nationals advising them not to travel to China. So far, the country has not yet reported any cases of the disease.

The country has also been added onto the WHO list of 20 countries within the region that have the ability to test for the disease which is an improvement. Testing is being carried out at the Uganda Virus Research Institute. Last month, only South Africa and Senegal had the ability to carry out tests.

In a statement on the status of coronavirus in Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa says that the few cases that have been reported on the African continent should act as a wakeup call for all governments.

The Lancet report highlights countries like Egypt, Algeria and South Africa as facing the highest risk of importation of the disease from China. Other countries like Nigeria and Ethiopia are cited as facing the second-highest risk. This is followed by Morocco, Sudan, Angola, Tanzania and Ghana and Kenya that were found to moderate risk of infections from China. 

So far 14 cases of the disease have been reported from six countries that are cited in the report.

However, the cases reported have not been imported from China as mentioned in the report.

Senegal, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria and Tunisia have reported cases of coronavirus but the cases originate from nationals from Italy and France.

Despite China not being a very big risk to Uganda, other countries such as the U.S, UK, India, Italy and France whose national visit the country mainly for tourism are a threat. They have all have confirmed cases of Coronavirus.

As of Wednesday, WHO estimates that over 93,000 people have been infected with the diseases in more than 76 countries. The number of new cases in China has reduced but around the world, they seem to be increasing with 120 and 2103 new infections respectively.

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