Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the health minister, yesterday said being able to book a flight may not guarantee one’s return unless the booked flight is full.
KAMPALA - As the country prepares to start receiving its nationals stranded abroad due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Ministry of Health has clarified that these Ugandans will have to book their own flights.
Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the health minister, on Sunday said being able to book a flight may not guarantee one's return unless the booked flight is full.
"We have to be aware that these Ugandans have to book their own flight. It is not us booking for them. And no flight will move unless it's full. So there has to be a coordination mechanism, and Ugandans are not in one country," she noted.
As a preventive measure to contain the transmission of COVID-19, government in March shut down all borders including the airport. This left several Ugandans stranded in foreign countries.
After several calls and an outcry by the affected Ugandans, Cabinet in May approved the return of some of them. 2,400 Ugandans in 66 foreign countries were allowed to return, starting this week.
According to Aceng, the health ministry wrote to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is coordinating the return, to provide a work plan on the return of these Ugandans for better handling, given the fact that it's a large group.
"We want them divided into a group 300 each and come every after 14 days to allow the team in quarantine to either move into isolation or be released from quarantine so that we release space for more," she said.
She said the ministry is ready and has already provided foreign affairs with the list of hotels willing to hold the returnees for 14 days, and also school dormitories and other institutions that will cater for those who can't afford the hotel rates.
The dormitories will be run by the ministry which will provide food and other social amenities to the returnees.
"The hotels were reopened but we don't control the costs, we can only negotiate. We have prepared our classrooms and institutions for those who can't afford the hotels but there is a cost of utility and feeding which will be covered by the ministry," she said.
She said information from foreign ministry indicates that the first group to return will be 60 Ugandans coming from Khartoum, Sudan.
Aceng made the remarks on Sunday, on Uganda Broadcasting Cooperation, where her ministry was giving accountability for the use of COVID-19 funds allocated to it
As of Monday, Uganda has recorded 774 cases. 631 have recovered while 256 remain active. The active cases include 113 foreigners who chose to be treated in Uganda but are not included in the national tally.