By Agnes Kiconco
KIU, Main Campus - The State Minister Primary Health Care, Hon. Margaret Muhanga during a campaign run on Sunday, December 19, 2021, at Kololo ceremonial grounds in Kampala, urged the public to prevent the third wave by remaining vigilant against COVID-19 this festive season as the number of cases is on the rise.
The 10km COVID-19 awareness run held under the theme: ‘It is my responsibility to prevent the surge of COVID-19 infections when the economy reopens’, was launched by the Government of Uganda, to keep the nation alert to avoid a surge in infections after re-opening the economy come January 2022, amid the continuing threat of COVID-19.
"Remain vigilant this festive season as the number of cases is on the rise. Let’s prevent a third wave. Together we can," Muhanga wrote on Twitter.
Alongside the campaign run led by Olympic marathon champions Stephen Kiprotich, Joshua Cheptegei, James Kiplimo, and Peruth Chemutai, a free mass vaccination drive was also hosted at the site, to have the population fully vaccinated to prevent the wild spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.
"In today’s mass accelerated vaccination run the likes of Kiprotich were like crawling babies once I took off. In the picture, you can see how I nailed it and took the flag and whoever has been doubting my running skills should just chill. I’m the new champion on the block," tweeted the excited Hon. Muhanga on Sunday.
The COVID-19 awareness campaign announced by Senior Presidential Advisor on Public Relations, Mary Karooro Okurut on Monday, December 13, 2021, at Uganda Media Center was proposed by the government, to gear up for the full opening of the economy, keep the nation on alert, for its people not to put their guard down and cause what several countries in Europe and the United States are experiencing – a surge in infections after re-opening.
“It is important that the government of Uganda launches a sustained campaign to raise the people’s consciousness to appreciate that the full reopening of the economy does not mean that the situation has completely normalized,” Karooro said last week.
The Ministry of Health in a statement issued on December 17, 2021, confirmed that the number of confirmed cases of Omicron in Uganda increased from 7 to 25. The cases were detected from travelers through Entebbe International Airport.
Dr. Henry Mwebesa, the Director-General of Health Services in a statement issued by the ministry, said the cases were imported from South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria as per the laboratory findings.
“The positive cases are mainly among travelers from Kenya, South Africa, South Sudan, Congo, Tanzania, and Rwanda. This means there may be increased transmission in other countries. Further, evidence from elsewhere in the over 60 countries and territories, where the omicron variant has been shown to be very highly transmissible, it appears it will replace the existing SARS CoV 2 viruses and variants,” he added.
Following this discovery, Uganda has set tougher rules for travelers. Uganda will begin mandatory Covid testing for all people arriving in the country via land border points to check the rise in infections.
Dr. Mwebesa on Friday said the targets are the Malaba and Busia borders with Kenya, Elegu with South Sudan, as well as Mutukula and Mpondwe.
“The Ministry (of Health) is also intensifying mandatory testing, and follow up of cases for all incoming travelers at the five major points of entry,” Dr. Mwebesa said, adding that testing will be implemented by the private sector already existing at the points of entry as the Ministry of Health builds adequate capacity to take over, just like at Entebbe International Airport.