Coronavirus – Uganda: Five Tanzanians arrested for illegally entering Uganda

Coronavirus – Uganda: Five Tanzanians arrested for illegally entering Uganda

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RAKAI – The Police and Uganda People’s Defence Forces in Rakai district are holding five Tanzanian nationals said to have sneaked into the country amid the COVID-19 lockdown.

Charles Mubiru, the Rakai Resident District Commissioner, confirmed the arrest, saying they were intercepted at Kamuli village in Kibanda sub-county on Friday.

This is the same area where the Police intercepted two Burundians and a Ugandan who crossed from Tanzania on a motorcycle. Mubiru added that the district COVID taskforce authorities are keeping the suspects in isolation at the District Agricultural and Technical Centre (DATIC) for close monitoring. 

He argued that some Ugandans and Tanzanians deliberately find their way in and out of the country through ungazetted border points. The taskforce has held numerous sensitisation and awareness campaigns about the pandemic but the committee members end up frustrated by people who are indifferent. “People choose not to heed to our warnings in spite of the heavy presence of police and army, in addition to the routine foot and motorised patrols,” he said. 

He further said that they are to prosecute all the five foreigners for violating the lockdown. Already swab samples have been taken from the suspects and sent to Uganda Virus Research Institute –Entebbe which will determine status. So far, he added, Rakai alone has produced four patients with COVID disease. However, one of the patients was discharged on Thursday after successful treatment at Masaka Regional Referral Hospital. 

“Apparently, more than 30 people in isolation and the number has increased by five Tanzanians,” he noted. A taskforce member said that they have established that several Tanzanians crossed to Uganda and registered as refugees more than three years back. “The majority obtained residential permits as residents in Nakivale Refugee camp,” he said. Ben Niwamanya, the District Police Commander, said that their travel documents, including permits and identity cards, have been retained. Because of the worsening COVID-19 situation in Tanzania, Niwamanya added, the majority of Tanzanians are running to Uganda which they consider a safe haven currently. 

He said that reinforcements from the UPDF Amoured Brigade-Masaka are helping to track and arrest intruders from Tanzania. “They have intensified day and night patrols around porous communities as enforce wearing of protective gear mainly masks, curfew and restricting cross-border movement amid the lockdown among others,” he said. However, the Rakai COVI-19 taskforce officials are trying to identify all the people who got in contact with the five Tanzanians in Kamuli village. Another Village sealed off Between May 4-7, the same taskforce officials sealed off Bulanga village, in Kibanda sub-county to identify all residents who got in contact with a COVID-19 patient. 

It is said the victim had gone to Tanzania for personal businesses where he spent several weeks but sneaked into Uganda through an unknown entry point. Concerned residents tipped authorities who arrested him and took samples from him before keeping him in isolation at DATIC. Authorities led by Dr Moses Sakor, the Rakai District Health Officer, identified at least 10 of his family members and colleagues whom they ordered to self-isolate for 14 days after taking samples from them. 

DPC Niwamanya said they were still pursuing the rest of the contacts who evaded the health authorities.

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