Tanzania: Four More Tanzanian Truck Drivers Test Positive for Coronavirus in Uganda

(file photo).

Four more Tanzanian cargo truck drivers have tested positive for coronavirus in Uganda as the country's confirmed cases rose to 79, according to Ministry of Health.

The confirmed cases were among the 1,578 samples tested among truck drivers on Sunday.

"All the new confirmed cases are Tanzanian truck drivers who arrived via Mutukula border. 411 samples from communities tested negative for COVID-19," the Ministry tweeted on Monday morning.

A total of 1,989 COVID-19 samples were tested tested on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Uganda and South Sudan governments' decisions to deport a Tanzanian and Kenyan nationals who tested positive for Covid-19 has strained relations among EAC member countries, putting at risk cross-border movement of goods in the region.

The repatriations, which are against World Health Organisation guidelines on how to handle pandemics such as the Covid-19 outbreak, have also put to test the East African Community common market and free movement protocols.

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Uganda is on record for having decided to repatriate a Tanzanian and Kenyan truck drivers who tested positive for coronavirus, while a South Sudanese taskforce on the Covid-19 pandemic also resolved to have two sick Kenyans evacuated by air.

"A male Kenyan truck driver, aged 27, was found positive among the 372 truck drivers tested yesterday. His sample was also collected at Malaba entry point. Arrangements are being made to return him to Kenya for treatment close to his family," read a statement released on April 20 by Uganda's Director General of Health Services, Dr Henry Mwebesa.

Source of concern

With an average of 1,000 trucks entering the landlocked Uganda every day, long-distance drivers have become a key source of concern for Kampala, as they have proved to be the highest source of imported coronavirus positive cases.

Out of 11 new Covid-19 positive cases reported in Uganda on Friday, six were Tanzanian truck drivers who arrived via the Mutukula border post while five were Kenyan truck drivers who entered the country through the Malaba and Busia border posts.

On Sunday, four more Tanzanian truck drivers tested positive for the virus.

However, Dr Mwebesa, in a telephone interview with The EastAfrican, denied that Uganda had adopted a policy of repatriating coronavirus patients to neighbouring countries.

"The truck driver in question returned to Kenya of his own volition. When we tracked him to the border, we were informed that after reaching his destination, Tororo Cement Company, he returned to Kenya on his own," said Dr Mwebesa, adding that there are Kenyans on treatment at Mulago and Entebbe hospitals

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