By Sarah Mazirwe – Kampala, Uganda, Tuesday, March 10, 2020.
A group of visitors who landed, Sunday, March 8, 2020, at Entebbe International Airport were denied a chance to participate in the EU-Uganda Business Forum that took off, Monday, March 9, 2020, at Speke Hotel in Kampala, capital of Uganda.
Ugandan authorities say they failed to undergo quarantine. The foreigners were from hard-hit COVI-19 countries which Uganda’s Health Ministry ranked as Category 1.
The business summit that started March 9, ends today. The foreign participants were instructed by Health Ministry officials after refusing to go under 14 days quarantine, as per the new rules set by the Health Ministry.
The counties in Category 1 include China, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Iran, and South Korea. While speaking to a local Television, the Health Minister Ruth Aceng said the 22 participants that have been deported back to their homes refused to go under 14 days of quarantine.
Of the 22, 17 were the summit participants while the remaining 5 were students that enrolled for an exchange program at Makerere University. Without identifying the names of their countries, Aceng noted the participants were from high-risk coronavirus countries. Aceng noted that the participants upon arrival underwent thorough medical checkups and were advised to go through 14 days of quarantine.
“It doesn’t make sense if you are going to a country for two days and you are quarantined for 14 days, so they opted to go back to their homes and they will be flying back today,” Aceng said. Aceng hopes the deported participants will be able to come back to Uganda when coronavirus has been completely and internationally contained.
The decision to deport the participants caught social media attention with the majority of Ugandans supporting the move to deport and restrict the entry of foreigners from coronavirus hard-hit countries.
“For the sake of Ugandans, we stand with you Dr. Jane, right now even the superpower countries are on stake because of corona, we really need more measures even more than that, how I wish they put travel ban in a while for all immigrants coming from most affected countries coz (because) even quarantining them seems not to be working effectively as the virus can develop even after one month,” Jacky Wise recommended.
“We stand with you for the safety of all Ugandans!!! That’s really a good move,” Arijuna Solomon commented. “I was at the airport at this time and I witnessed the struggle with these non-nationals with the government and I can proudly say well done the Ministry of Health, you have used your authority well, For God and My Country, Let’s Protect our Country,” Iroh Esa said.
“At this time, no one needs summits as people’s health is more important than those summits that attract foreigners, especially from Europe, should be postponed until further notice,” Micheal Kazinda said.
The travelers from category 2 according to Aceng will be observed very closely. The countries in this category are the UK, Switzerland, Norway, Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, India and the US.
Aceng noted that the rest of the countries are classed as “Category 3” and travelers arriving will undergo routine screening upon arrival and be advised on how to prevent the possible spread of the virus. Uganda has not registered any cases of COVI-19. By press time, there are over 100,000 reported cases across the globe.