Government has approved a request for funds worth 25 billion Shillings to go towards preparedness efforts against coronavirus, a disease that started in Wuhan, the provincial capital of Hubei Province in China.
Reports indicate that the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in mainland China has risen to 490 after more deaths were reported in Hubei province. There are now more than 24,600 cases in China alone, with a much smaller number of cases in about 25 other countries around the globe.
Two people have died of the disease outside of mainland China – one in Hong Kong and one in The Philippines, barely a week after the World Health Organisation declared the disease a global health emergency.
Uganda has not yet recorded a case of coronavirus, although a number of people who have travelled to China, including some four Chinese nationals have been isolated. But the government says steps need to be taken to keep the virus at bay.
Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng has said that although the Ministry of Finance had indicated to parliament on Tuesday that this money wasn’t available, it was finally approved during a meeting held this afternoon.
During a press conference held this evening, the minister said that part of the money goes into stocking the isolation centres at Naguru and Entebbe Referral Hospitals while other funds will go into screening activities at the border points, Entebbe Airport and strengthening surveillance.
According to Dr Yona Tegnen Woldermariam, the World Health Organization Uganda Country Representative, the organization recommends isolation and close monitoring for everyone who has recently traveled to China.
In Uganda, the Ministry is encouraging self-quarantine where people who have travelled are supposed to isolate themselves from their homes for a period of 14 days. During the period of isolation, health officials will be making spot checks on them until they are declared okay.
The Minister said that scientists are yet to establish how long the virus lasts outside the body before spreading to another person and that this is the reason as to why they are discouraging handshakes and use of masks in public places since even without symptoms, a person could likely be infectious.
The World Health Organization notes that their scientists are still studying the samples provided by the government of China to understand the virus better and establish all the information about it since it was just discovered last year in humans.
They say once there is enough information, ways to limit its transmission will be developed and popularized. While the current understanding of the disease remains limited, most cases reported to date have been milder according to experts, with around 20 per cent of those infected experiencing severe illness.
A person with Coronavirus, experts say present with flu-like symptoms, fever, cough, and shortness in breath and in severe cases the sufferer develops pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome and kidney failure.