Uganda Orders ‘Mobile Quarantine’ for Truckers to Curb Coronavirus


(Bloomberg) --

Uganda banned interstate truckers from checking into hotels and ordered they break only at selected points in a bid to curb the coronavirus outbreak.

Cargo will continue to be moved across the national borders, but drivers can’t stop at hotels, lodges or homes, President Yoweri Museveni said in a televised speech on Tuesday. It will be a “mobile quarantine” and they will only stop to rest at “designated places,” Museveni said.

Museveni also announced that only one driver will be allowed per truck and not three as earlier permitted. He especially urged women to resist meeting with the travelers and avoid the risk of contagion.

While the East African nation has only confirmed 79 Covid-19 cases after 20,329 tests, the government is concerned that movers of cargo into and out of the landlocked country could become super spreaders. Of the positive cases, 23 are truck drivers and several of them nationals of neighboring Kenya and Tanzania whose ports facilitate trade for the region.

On April 23, the health ministry tested 1,331 samples and confirmed 11 positive cases, all of them truck drivers, prompting several people on social media to call for drastic measures. Museveni said he had phone calls with presidents Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Tanzania’s John Magufuli and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame on the matter and more measures may follow.

The number of trucks crossing the Ugandan borders has more than halved from a daily 3,000 since the government detected the first virus case on March 22. Uganda is also a transit hub for hinterland countries including Congo, South Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi who receive and send cargo through ports in Kenya and Tanzania.

The drivers admitted in Ugandan hospitals “are all in stable condition,” Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng said on her Twitter account.

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