It was getting costly and risky for Uganda to continue admitting and treating foreign truck drivers who have tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Health minister Jane Ruth Aceng has said.
Aceng says that Uganda does not have the capacity to treat all foreign truckers and as such, up to 145 truck drivers who tested positive have been returned to their respective countries, an act that contradicts a recommendation by the World Health Organization (WHO).
WHO says all persons who test positive within a particular country, must be counted and treated as a case for that country. Uganda's caseload of confirmed cases had risen to 260 with truck drivers making up to 74%.
However, on the recommendation of President Museveni, Uganda on Tuesday expunged from its caseload all foreign truckers that had tested positive from samples at the Uganda Virus Research Institute, and lately from the border points.
Aceng told journalists that continuing to accommodate foreign truck drivers would strain health centres while at the same time increase risks to Ugandan nationals and medical teams.
"Those who test positive, we hand them back over to their countries because they are not coming in to stay. They are just on transit, Uganda is a transit route for a large number of trucks destined to Rwanda, destined to South Sudan, destined to the DRC. So it is unwise for us to keep on keeping them in our country and treating them here. They would fill up all the hospital spaces," Aceng said.
Aceng is also hopeful that the problem of the COVID-19 positive truck drivers will be solved when ministers, technical personnel and Heads of states of the East African Community convene next week.
But she hastens to add that the equation was partially solved when the government opted to undertake tests at the border points and issue results on the same day. According to Aceng, Uganda is not at risk if the process is efficiently done.