Uganda warns of COVID-19 surge in capital city


Administrators in Uganda’s capital city Kampala have started a public campaign urging people to report any suspected cases of COVID-19. The campaign comes at a time when the city is reporting an increased number of infections and deaths.

“In the past few days, COVID-19 death cases have been recorded around Kampala City. We now need to be more alert than ever,” one of the flyers circulated on social media on Friday morning said. “If you suspect that anyone has COVID-19 symptoms, call KCCA’s toll free numbers for immediate assistance,” it added.

Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) is the administrator of the capital, which is home to around 4 million people. It has pledged to collect any suspected patient and take them to be tested, free of charge.

The campaign comes just a day after the Ugandan government announced two COVID-19 cases in two shopping malls, just weeks after they had reopened for business. The country’s health ministry on Thursday said the emerging COVID-19 situation in Kampala is worrying.

Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng said the country has seen an emergence of COVID-19 cases, largely from previously unknown transmission lines in the capital and neighboring Wakiso district.

“This, in essence, signals tougher times ahead and thus, a much deeper need for compliance to the presidential directives, the ministry of health standard operating procedures, and statutory instruments in place for this public health threat,” said Aceng.

A total of 79 confirmed COVID-19 cases have been reported in the last 14 days in Kampala, she said, adding that 23 community cases were registered from July 28 to Aug. 3 and the cases more than doubled to 56 from Aug. 4 to Aug. 12. “This trend implies that we shall be seeing the number of COVID-19 cases go up,” said Aceng.

She said that out of the 11 deaths so far registered in the east African country, eight are from the Kampala region alone.”More so, all (deaths) were identified from unknown transmission lines.

It is possible (due to) the phased lifting of the lockdown, the virus may have been imported into Kampala and it appears to have spread among the communities in Kampala,” said Aceng.

She said Kampala has registered emerging clusters of transmissions in three business premises in the last one week, with a total of 11 confirmed cases and 316 contacts having been identified. “These business premises have been recommended for temporary closure.

The Ministry of Health working closely with KCCA and partners will intensify response activities to a level to commensurate with the threat at hand,” said Aceng.

The minister also said the ministry has launched a rapid assessment survey to determine the extent of the spread of the virus among communities in Kampala, map out the affected areas and implement targeted interventions to prevent further spread of the virus.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has set up a committee headed by a senior military officer to enforce the precautionary measures across the country.

As of Thursday, the country has registered 1,353 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 1,141 recoveries and 11 deaths since March 21, according to the health ministry.

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