Uganda Tour Operators & Tourists Travel Guide, Current Measures & Safety against Coronavirus-COVID-19
On the 31st December 2019, China notified the World Health Organization about the outbreak of the Pneumonia causing illness that was confirmed to be caused by the novel corona virus (COVID-19). It is important to state that coronavirus, although relatively new, isn’t so much different from those that emerged earlier like Influenza, SARs, cholera, Ebola, and Marburg among other viruses and respiratory infections. In fact, SARs that attacked China and other Asian countries between 2002-2003 was more aggressive.
Following the struggles of preventing the disease from spreading, on 30th January 2020, the World Health Organization announced it as a Public Health Event of International Concern.
Current Global situation
Following the current updates, the coronavirus COVID-19 has spread to all continents but in about 92 countries. As of 7th March, about 101, 828 have been reported globally with over 3,483 death recorded.
In Africa, the outbreak is reported to be in 8 countries and these include; Egypt, Togo, South Africa, Algeria, Nigeria, Tunisia, Senegal, and Cameroon. The risk of spreading the virus to other countries is high because of how fast it is spreading.
Uganda’s Current State about Coronavirus – COVID-19
As of today 9th March 2020, Uganda has no confirmed case. Addressing journalists yesterday at the Ministry of Health headquarters in Kampala, Minister of Health Jane Ruth Aceng, said there is no confirmed case of coronavirus in Uganda, but the government is taking precautionary measures to ensure that the deadly virus doesn’t get into the country.
Although no case has been detected in Uganda, on account of the regular traffic between mainland China and Uganda, there have been attempts through local media elites especially those in print, electronic and social media that have spread unresearched information to cause fear, hysteria among the travellers and hate against the government.
There are over 1000 travelers coming in Uganda from different countries for their Uganda trips and Tours, others are coming in just for a holiday, business while the rest are returning home. These individuals have been identified as high risk and those that show signs are identified for purposes of follow up.
According to the Ministry of Health in Uganda, there are over 765 travelers under self-quarantine of which 456 have completed the 14 Days mandatory self-isolation test. Samples that were taken from over 20 persons with signs and symptoms similar to those of the COVID-19 all tested negative.
What has the Government of Uganda done to minimize the risk of the Coronavirus COVID-19?
Emergency measures have been put in place to help curb the outbreak;
- Screening of all travellers entering through the Entebbe International Airport and in all other entry points in Uganda like the Busia border, Malaba border, Cyanika border, Mutukula, and Egeru is seriously going on.
- Travellers coming from any of the affected countries are required to undergo the mandatory 14 days self-quarantine test.
- Entebbe and Naguru referral hospitals have been prepared to receive and manage suspected cases. In addition, isolation facilities are being organized at regional referral hospitals are being prepared to receive people who have signs and symptoms.
- 11 ambulances have been put on standby to transport suspected cases to the appropriate level of care.
The government of Uganda through the Ministry of Health reviewed the evolution of the outbreak under three different categories and has come up with different measures basing on that. The criteria were done to help assess the risk of importation of the virus from the affected countries to Uganda.
Category 1: Number of cumulative cases;
- The higher the number of chances, the higher the risk of exportation of the COVID-19 virus.
Therefore the government of Uganda reviewed that people coming from Iran, Italy, South Korea, France, China, Spain, and Germany should consider postponing non-essential visits to Uganda. Those that insist on visiting Uganda must undergo the 14 day self-quarantine at a health facility at their cost even when they don’t exhibit the symptoms of Coronavirus.
Those with essential visits for example that had booked Uganda safaris with different Uganda Tour Operators like Prime Safaris & Tours Ltd should fly in 2 weeks ahead of their trip in Uganda so they undergo the mandatory 14 Days self-quarantine at a health facility so their trip goes on.
Besides the famous mountain gorillas trekked by tourists on Uganda gorilla safaris, Uganda is also home to about 11% of the world’s bird species that bird fanatics can enjoy during a Uganda birding safari, all of Africa’s big five safari animals you can during a Uganda wildlife tour, a huge population of chimpanzees open for Uganda chimpanzee safari, excellent weather suitable for everyone, the source of the world’s longest river, River Nile, Happy and hospitable people and many more. This continues to reaffirm Uganda as Africa’s leading holiday destination.
Uganda’s Ministry of Health on Sunday reported that at least 22 foreign nationals would return to their home countries amid rising fears of the spread of coronavirus. These foreign nationals came in ahead of Uganda –Europe Business forum that started today on the 9th March 2020 to March 10. However, 22 passengers were coming in from the Category 1 countries. None of them exhibited signs and symptoms of COVID19 but we informed them about our procedure of self-quarantine for 14 days. Though, they were not willing to undergo this self-quarantine. They were tasked to return to their home countries,” Minister of Health, Dr. Ruth Aceng said on Sunday.
Aceng says travel of Ugandans to these countries will be restricted henceforth and the travellers returning from these countries have been advised to postpone all nonessential travel to Uganda.
Category 2: Number of cases in the last 24 hours
The Ministry of Health in Uganda has enhanced measures to ensure there is no importation of Coronavirus in Uganda.
- This is a measure of active transmission of the COVID-19 virus in the countries.
The Ministry of Health in Uganda is set to observe the evolution outbreak of corona virus in these countries;- UK, Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, USA, Belgium, & India after which it will come up with a measure or restrictions of travellers coming in from those countries. At the moment, the Ministry of Health is set to observe visitors from the above-mentioned countries closely.
Category 3: Increase in cases in the last 7 Days
- This is an indication of community transmission of COVID-19 that was measured indirectly by the percentage increase in the number of cases in the last 7 Days.
As a result, the rest of the countries will undergo a routine screening upon arrival at any entry point in Uganda and advised on the measures to take while in the country to prevent infection and where to report if not feeling well.
This Ministry of Health analysis will be reviewed weekly and travel advice will be updated accordingly. Countries that have been mentioned and restricted will be removed off the list id they don’t register new cases in 14 Days.
Temporal postponement of the International Meeting & Conferences
The Ministry of Health today the 9th Match 2020 has informed the general public that all the International Meetings & Conferences have been temporarily postponed due to the Corona virus threat. Among the canceled is the G77 summit that was scheduled in Uganda from April 16-19, 2020 at Speke Resort Munyonyo, attracting more than 6,000 delegates from 136 member states.
Why were International Meetings & Conferences postponed?
This decision arrived after extensive consultation from the key health experts in the Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization (WHO), and US Centre for Disease Control & Presentation (CDC) as well as using the available evidence.
Following the research, experts assessed the risk of global meetings on the importation of COVID-19 virus as very high due to;-
- This being a new virus, there is no immunity in the population making everyone vulnerable.
- These meetings will also bring in many travelers from many of the affected countries.
- One of the measures of preventing the current coronavirus is avoiding crowded place however, it is impossible to avoid crowding and congestion during such large meetings.
Furthermore, the United Nations has postponed a number of planned International events. Therefore, given the above evidence, the Ministry of Health thus recommends that international Meetings in Uganda should be postponed to a later date to minimize the risk of evolution of the virus.
Additionally, the Ministry of Health has also set guidelines for mass gatherings with in the country.
What are mass gatherings?
The Ministry of Health experts defines the mass gatherings as concertation of people in a specific area or location for a specific purpose over a set period of time. There is sufficient evidence that mass gatherings can increase the risk of transmission of infectious diseases including coronavirus (COVID-19). Examples of mass gatherings include;
- Sports events like football matches, rugby, betting, etc.
- Religious gatherings like crusades, prayer congregations, pilgrimages, etc.
- Political events like rallies campaigns national events, etc.
- Social and cultural functions like weddings, funerals, parties, etc.
Rules and Regulations to follow before doing a mass gathering
The organizers must make adequate preparations before hosting a mass event in order to minimize the risks of contracting coronavirus as required below;
- The organizers should liaise with Health authorities for advice during the organization of events.
- Provide information on the prevention of Coronavirus COVID-19 to all participants.
- The event should have adequate hand washing facilities with enough soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub (sanitizers).
- The organizers should ensure they don’t allow people with flue like symptoms in the mass gathering premises.
- Organizers should also plan for cleaning and disinfecting frequently used communal places like bathrooms, urinals, and toilets as well as frequently touched places like door knobs (handles), elevator buttons, car door locks, etc. with soap or disinfectants.
- Waste management facilities should be put in place including dustbins, cans, bin-liners, tissues, and many more. Organizers should also ensure well-trained waste handlers are on the ground to manage the waste.
Mandatory facilities that should be in place at all mass gathering sites
- Toilet/latrines should be put in place and there should be 1 stand for every 20 participants.
- Hand washing facilities with enough soap and water.
- Adequate ventilation with proper air circulation.
- At least 5 ultraviolet thermometers for temperature screening.
- Health desk with qualified health workers to monitor people’s health safety standards or follow their advice all the time.
- There should be easy access to evacuation facilities for sick participants like ambulances.
- The venue should have well equipped first aid kits.
Government Travel Guidance to all Uganda Tour Operators & other Facilities
Are tourists safe? Yes! There are various medically approved recommendations or ways of how to prevent the Coronavirus Infection that the Government of Uganda has put in place measures or rules to follow to ensure maximum safety for all travellers that come for Uganda tours;–
- The Government of Uganda through the Uganda Tourism Board has instructed all Uganda safari operators to have alcohol-based hand sanitizers and medicated wipes in all their Uganda safari vehicles and vessels.
- The Ministry of Health has instructed all the Uganda safari lodges and hotels, restaurants and bars to avail enough hand sanitizers & hand washing facilities with plenty of clean water and soap.
- All Uganda tour destinations have been tasked to provide hand sanitizers to guests and staff. This is to ensure the health and safety of all guests and staff.
- Tour operators, agencies and accommodation facilities are encouraged to maintain a stock of recommended masks (N95) for their clients
- All tour operators and travel agencies should encourage clients who intend to visit Uganda to carry own recommended masks (N95)
- All tour operators, travel agencies and accommodation facilities should educate their staff and clients (visitors) on preventive measures for the mitigation of contracting Coronavirus
- Tour operators in Uganda, restaurants, bars, and accommodation facilities have been advised to frequently disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces such as door handles
General safety measures for preventing Coronavirus (2019-nCov) while travelling
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing using a clean hankie (Practice respiratory hygiene). Always wash your handkerchief by yourself, and iron it before use again.
The Ministry of Health emphasizes good respiratory hygiene. Health workers encourage people to make it a policy. This means to ensure you cover your mouth and nose with your hankie or tissue whenever you cough or sneeze. It is always good to have more than one hankie with you. If you are using tissue, dispose of the used tissue immediately in the waste bin.
Why? Nose and mouth droplets spread the virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.
- Regularly wash your hands or use medicated sanitizers and wipes. If you’re in a location with no water and soap, use medicated wipes or alcohol-based hand rub sanitizers. Dispose of them after every single use.
Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses (germs) that may be on your hands. This is one of the safest and easiest measures.
- Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as cough and flue.
You are recommended to maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
Why? People who cough or sneeze without covering their mouth and nose spray small liquid droplets in space and these may contain the virus. If you are too close, you can easily breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth (face)
If you touch your face when your hands are not clean, you can easily contaminate it if you have contacted the virus.
Why? We use our hands to touch many surfaces and some of them may have been infected with the virus. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
- If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early
Don’t stay home if you feel unwell more so when you have a fever, cough and breathing difficulty, seek medical attention.
Why? In case you are a victim, National and local authorities will get the most up to date information on the situation in your area. This will also protect you and help prevent the spread of viruses and other infections.
- Avoid shaking hands and hugging all the time with different people. You may shake hands or hug a person that has contacted the virus.
- Don’t take self-medication like antibiotics. Why? Self-medication is not recommended among people because you may give yourself under dose or overdose.
- Delay traveling to countries that have been infected with the virus. Why? Chances are high that you may also become a victim when you go there. If you really must travel then you must follow the protective measures so you don’t become a victim.
- Don’t spit in public. You should always find secluded places like pit latrines, or toilets to spit in.
- Thoroughly cook your meat and eggs. Why? It is medically proved that other coronaviruses have been transmitted from animals to humans.
- Make sure you stay informed as well as follow advice given by medical specialists – Listen or watch coronavirus updates; News
Staying informed about the latest developments more so about the COVID-19 outbreak is the best practice. In case you are a victim, follow the advice given by your healthcare provider, your national and local public health authority or your employer on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on whether COVID-19 is spreading in your area. They are best placed to advise on what people in your area should be doing to protect themselves.
Protection measures for persons who are in or have recently visited areas where COVID-19 is spreading
- Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and a slight runny nose, until you recover. Why? Avoiding contact with others and visits to medical facilities will allow these facilities to operate more effectively and help protect you and others from possible COVID-19 and other viruses.
- If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition. Call in advance and tell your provider of any recent travel or contact with travelers. Why? Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also help to prevent the possible spread of COVID-19 and other viruses.
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