Uganda: Status of Uganda's Preparedness On the 2019-Coronavirus Outbreak.

press release

The Ministry of Health Uganda would like to update the general public on the progress in regards to prevention of the 2019-novel Coronavirus.

Current Global situation

As of today 11th February 2020, a total of 40,554 cases have been confirmed including 909 deaths. This is double the number of confirmed cases in one week. Outside China, 319 confirmed cases have been reported in 24 countries. To date, no country in Africa has reported any confirmed case of coronavirus but the continent remains at high risk due to ease of international travel.

Situation in Uganda

Uganda has no confirmed case of 2019-novel Coronavirus. However, the Ministry of Health remains vigilant to identify any person who may develop or arrive with the disease. As of 10th February, 220 travellers from and with links to China have been assessed by our medical teams at the airport and advised on appropriate measures to take in case they develop signs and symptoms of the coronavirus infection. They are under isolation at their homes with daily follow up by the surveillance officers. 100 have completed 10 days. None have developed signs and symptoms of the 2019- novel coronavirus.

The Ministry of Health has undertaken the following measures to prevent, detect and respond to 2019-Coronavirus importation.

1. Ensured that Uganda Virus Research Institute has the necessary equipment and reagents to test and confirm any suspected 2019-Coronavirus samples in-country. This will enable early case detection, containment and management of the disease.

2. Developed an information sheet that is distributed to travelers with telephone numbers of officers. This will facilitate travellers who are not feeling well to call for information and help at any time.

3. Strengthened screening at Entebbe International Airport. This is done using a Thermo scanner that is able to pick a person's temperature within a crowd in a range of 4- 20 meters. It then identifies the person with raised temperature and creates a picture of the individual with finer details on a different screen. A health worker monitors images generated by the scanner from a different screen. The larger screen where people would view themselves was removed after concerns that photographs were being taken without the people's consent. The filled forms are deposited with the health worker at the health checkpoint before the traveller proceeds to the Immigration checkpoint.

4. Travellers from affected countries are provided with information on 2019-novel coronavirus, where to report and seek care should they develop symptoms, and on self-isolation for a period of 14 days. These travellers are being followed up by surveillance officers on a daily basis for up to 14 days.

5. Provision of information to the public through the available media outlets and other communication channels.

6. Risk mapping and assessment of vulnerable locations in the country. This is to identify possible avenues of importation of 2019-novel coronavirus and high-risk areas for intensified surveillance.

7. Entebbe and Naguru referral hospitals have been strengthened to manage people who might fall sick. Ambulances have been provided to transport the suspected cases to the appropriate level of care.

The Ministry of Health appeals to all people especially travellers from the affected countries to cooperate with health workers to strengthen and sustain vigilance against 2019-Coronavirus.

Key messages to the public

1. Avoid close contact with people who are visibly sick with flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, sneezing and running nose).

2. Cover the mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the dustbin and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

3. When infected with any flu - avoid crowds, and use a face-mask to cover the nose and mouth.

4. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

5. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

6. Stay home and call for help from health workers when you experience symptoms of coronavirus to avoid spreading illness to others.

7. Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces such as door handles.

The Ministry of Health further appeals to the general public to remain calm and report any suspicious cases to the nearest health facility or call our toll free lines 0800-203-033 and 0800-100-066, and the following officers- Mr. Atek Kagirita-0782 909153, Dr. Allan Muruta-0772 460297, Dr. Opar Bernard- 0772 469323

Hon. Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng

Minister of Health

11th February, 2020

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