Nigeria, Uganda search for returnees who skipped screening at airport
In Uganda some 84 people were left to self-isolate instead of undergoing mandatory quarantine prompting authorities in Uganda to track down the passengers.
The passengers were on an Ethiopian Airlines flight with a man who tested positive for coronavirus. They have called on the travellers to come forward for screening.
On Saturday, Uganda’s health minister Ruth Jane Aceng had said all of them were in quarantine and could easily be monitored.
In Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari’s chief of staff, Abba Kyari, raised an urgent public health alarm to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, informing him that some Nigerian lawmakers refused to undergo coronavirus screening at the airport.
Mr Kyari, in a letter to Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila on March 21, said the minister of health had drawn his attention to repeated violation of screening procedure at the nation’s airports.
“As you are aware, these airport screenings are our primary line of defence and refusal by any citizen to subject to these tests is a threat to our nation,” the chief of staff wrote.
The letter surfaced on social media Monday morning, although it was unclear who first posted it.
Kyari admonished Gbajabiamila to immediately rein in the excesses of federal lawmakers and ask all those who have refused to submit to medical test for COVID-19 to report themselves at the screening centres across the country.
The letter did not specifically name the lawmakers that declined screening upon returning from a foreign trip.
As at Monday, Nigeria has 35 cases of COVID-19 infections with health officials warning citizens to maintain social distancing and isolate themselves if they had recently visited places with high number of infections.
A Ugandan government official told the BBC it was assumed all the passengers on Ethiopian Airlines flight ET338 into Uganda had been separated and quarantined.
Efforts are now underway to trace them.
Meanwhile, at least two priests have been arrested in Uganda for conducting masses despite a ban on religious and other gatherings due to the coronavirus.
A priest at a Catholic church in the capital Kampala insisted he was recording a televised service with a production team, but eyewitnesses said several dozen people were in the congregation.
Uganda confirmed its first case of coronavirus on Saturday.
A number of African countries have reported a jump in infections, including Kenya, Tanzania and Nigeria