Kole MP on unrestricted borders and what MoH should do with truck drivers

Kole North MP Okello Bonny Desales. Courtesy photo.

“…. these drivers interacted with people, bought food many times on their way and gave people money using their hands, and also slept on the way,” says Kole North MP, Okello Bonny Desales.

In a press release dated 14, April 2020 and signed by Dr Henry G. Mwebesa who’s the Director General Health Services, the Ministry of Health confirmed one new case of COVID-19.

“Out of the 625 samples tested at Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI), 372 were from truck drivers at the border points of entry while 253 were from contacts in the community,” the press release, partly reads.

The new case, according to the Ministry of Health’s press release, was a 36 year old Ugandan male truck driver from Tororo district who arrived from Kenya on Monday 12, April 2020.

“He was tested at Malaba border point of entry as part of our routine test for truck drivers. He didn’t have signs and symptoms consistent with COVID-19.”

The same release says a male Kenyan truck driver aged 27 was found positive among the 372 truck drivers tested. As of Tuesday, Uganda’s total confirmed cases is 55.

In a telephone interview with TND News on Wednesday evening, Kole North MP, Hon. Okello Bonny Desales, advised the Ministry of Health to put more restrictions at the borders.

Hon. Okello was “not happy” with a statement made by Health Minister, Dr Jane Aceng during Museveni’s 10th nation address on coronavirus situation in Uganda.

“We are testing the truck drivers and the results are communicated to them,” he said of the Minister, during the Wednesday interview.

“Assuming they are from Malaba, and maybe they are going to Sudan or coming to Kampala. They should be detained at the boarder until the result are out and they are allowed to proceed,” the Kole North MP, added.

“Look at this scenario of the drivers who tested positive on Tuesday, they tested them and allowed them to come. That means they continued to infect people along the way.”

He says there is a trading centre in Bugiri, where trailers are parked and there are sex workers. “If they came to Kampala and arrived in Kampala late, possibly they could have slept somewhere – with girlfriends. Do you see the problem we are in now?”

According to the MP, these drivers interacted with people, bought food many times on their way and gave people money using their hands, and also slept on the way.

“So, it’s another problem all together,” he noted.

“The basic reproductive rate, Ro, of coronavirus (COVID-19) is 2-3, which means each person infects between two to three people. It means those two people will infect two people – those are already 6 people,” Mr Okello, who has an MSC in public health-health promotion, says.

Now, in between five days [the incubation period], the MP, widely known among his populace as ‘Konypaco’ says the virus from these other people is already infectious.

He adds that, after five days, those they had infected, will also infect at least three people each.

Further advising the Ministry of Health, he said that the proposal could have been to erect temporary tents along the border[s] where travellers are quarantined for a day. “You arrive, your sample are taken and when it’s negative, you are allowed to proceed.”

He emphasized that these truck drivers could have fallen for sex workers, who also have their families. In this ‘business’, he says the sex workers stand higher chances of infecting their families.

The central government has directed all districts in the country to institute district COVID-19 task forces, in a bid to fight the virus.

In the same interview, Desales urged all district task forces in Lango to allow NGOs working in the sub-region to come in and support them in the fight against COVID-19.

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