Two Moroto bound Gateway buses were on Sunday intercepted by the police following a call to security agencies on the presence of three passengers with coronavirus symptoms on board.
The trio identified as Esther Nakorio and Patricia Angolere reportedly travelled at the weekend from Nairobi via Busia to Napak district.
While another suspect was identified as Loburu Peter is said also to have travelled from Langata estate in Nairobi via Malaba before connecting to Moroto district. Where the trio was screened by medics from the Moroto regional referral hospital- MRRH and isolated for further management.
The rest of the 78 passengers were also screened at quarantined at the hospital till the ministry of health issues a statement according to the district health officer Charles Omuddu.
However, the Mt. Moroto Regional Police Commander, Gerald Twishime, says it sparked a lot of fear among the people.
"We got the call from the concerned people in Busia and swung in action by impounding the buses at two locations in Irriri, Napak and Lorengedwat in Nabilatuk districts," Twishime noted.
He said the passengers who had jumped off the buses at the two stages were rounded up and driven to Moroto amidst heavy escort by the police.
"The buses were driven up to MRRH where the medics in the leadership of the focal person for COVID-19 at the referral hospital Dr Moses Okwir took up the initiative to screen the passengers," Twishime noted adding that the involvement is to ensure the health status of the people.
He said the police will ensure President Yoweri Museveni directives are implemented for the sake of ensuring COVID-19 is scale down in the country.
Nevertheless, Twishime said people were not complying with the directives adding that most of the population was not aware of the disease.
"We still have challenges of people crossing into Karamoja due to the porous and poorly defined borders," he observed.
Twishime said the medics were still ill-equipped thus they lack the capacity to handle such a crisis, adding that the region also lacks reception centres in case of the disease outbreak.
He appealed to the public to cooperate with the police in the fight against the disease, saying most people are still adamant.
Rev. Capt. Simon Peter Loduk from Church of Uganda Moroto said Karamoja needs a lot of preparation for the COVID-19 disease.
He added that the health facilities cannot handle the issue of isolation and quarantine of suspected COVID-19 victims.
"Imagine we were kept at the hospital without even the face masks," Loduk said adding that in case it's confirmed that the suspected people have the virus we shall be at risk.
He commended the police for putting up a security barricade around the bus and escorting the passengers to the referral hospital for screening.
A driver to one of the buses Higenyi Mutwalibi asked the media to provide factual information to the readers on issues of COVID-19 disease saying when people get the truth they understand better.
The District Health Officer Moroto, Omuddu, who participated in the screening exercise said all passengers had tested negative in the two buses.
He, however, added that four persons two men and girls were isolated from the group for further management.
‘We are going to keep them till we get their results from the ministry of health," Omuddu said adding that the fact they travelled from Nairobi-Kenya.
Suspected cases isolated
Meanwhile, three cases suspected to have COVID-19 have been isolated from the bus and are in confinement at Moroto regional referral hospital
The RDC Moroto Peterken Lochap said the girls came from Kenya and later travelled to Moroto district using Gateway buses.
He said two women and one man who travelled from Nairobi-Kenya are in isolation at the Moroto Regional Referral Hospital.
He urges the communities to be calm, asking leaders to vigilant after the isolation of the three cases.
"We have also picked blood samples from each of them for testing," Lochap noted, saying the results could be out in the next 24 hours.
"All the borders have been sealed as per the government directive," Lochap said.
He advised the communities to follow the advice from health personnel at all times to be able to prevent the disease.