The Ministry of Health has discharged 825 Ugandans and legal residents from institutional quarantine. The Ugandans recently returned to the country but had to undergo mandatory quarantine.
They are among the 995 Ugandans and legal residents who had been stranded overseas after the closure of borders and airports, to slow the spread of coronavirus. They arrived in the country between June 22 and July 11 from Southern Africa, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and India among others.
Majority of the returnees were discharged between Friday night and throughout Saturday after testing negative for COVID-19. A number of them had launched protests against the Ministry of Health for delaying their release, even after completing the 14-day mandatory quarantine.
One of the returnees said he was relieved to go home after getting stuck in Chad, where he had been working on a short term contract at an oil and gas company. Due to the negative impact of COVID-19 on businesses, the company sent all workers on leave and flew its expatriates to Addis Ababa, where they would thereafter get connecting flights to their home countries.
As a result, the returnee says he left Chad in early June and stayed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for close to a month before getting an available flight to Uganda on July 2. He, however, decries the costs and inconveniences that came with the journey. He paid 6.4 million Shillings for the air ticket.
“By the time I came to Uganda, I had spent about four million Shillings on visa fees, feeding, and hotel costs in Ethiopia. So I looked for a low-cost hotel. As a result, he says, he has spent more than 10 million Shillings on a journey from Chad to Uganda”
Dr Richard Mugahi, the National Coordinator for Quarantine Centres at Ministry of Health says the ministry will follow up on the concerns of returnees who have been discharged from quarantine. He adds that another 170 returnees who came back two weeks ago have not yet completed quarantine, while some of them are in the hospital as suspects with COVID-19 symptoms and others have the virus.
Since Uganda started receiving returnees, 34 have tested positive for COVID-19. The returnees were from Afghanistan, India, South Africa, DR Congo and South Sudan. Another group of more than 500 Ugandans returned yesterday from the United States of America, the Caribbean and Qatar.