Health minister to address nation over new Omicron Covid-19 variant

The minister of health is expected to address the nation on Wednesday over the new variant recently discovered by South African scientists.
Several countries including Canada, USA and UK have already slapped restrictions on travelers arriving from about eight countries from South Africa. Israel has imposed a full restriction regardless while Rwanda and Japan have reinstated quarantine for arrivals.

Uganda has not yet announced any new measures at its entry points including  Entebbe International Airport, and ministry of health sources say authorities are still hesitant to impose new measures. The mandatory testing for all arrivals are considered sufficient for now.

The additional reason the government is not in a hurry is said to be over the passenger traffic that is picking up because of the festive season. Many Ugandans are travelling out and others are from the Diaspora are coming in for Christmas.

The World Health Organization has appealed to countries not to rush into imposing new restrictions until the full nature of the variant has been determined. WHO instead urges all countries to remain vigilant in implementing the standard measures for preventing the spread of the coronavirus which include mask wearing, avoiding crowding and above all, vaccination

Mandatory testing for all arrivals started last month at Entebbe and costs 30 US Dollars. The ‘Swab and Go’ approach lets travelers proceed with their internal journeys and they are notified of the results by email or WhatsApp. It is believed that on Wednesday, Uganda’s experts will have formulated the approach to containing the new variant and Dr Ruth Aceng will communicate to the country about it.

The authorities are however expected to step up vigilance in monitoring arrivals from Southern Africa where many holidaying Diaspora Ugandans ‘ba summer’ originate from and where other resident citizens head for a change. 

Currently, the national carrier Uganda Airlines makes four scheduled flights  a week between Entebbe and Johannesburg. Any travel ban would be disastrous to the young airline that has been picking up steadily.

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