Health workers in Kyotera and Rakai districts are breathing a sigh of relief after recording a reduction in Covid-19 cases on the Uganda-Tanzania border at Mutukula, in Rakai District.

Available statistics from the district health department show that between July 19 and 26, a total of 747 cargo truck drivers were tested and 19 were found to be positive for Covid-19. Only two of the cargo truck drivers, who tested positive were Ugandans, with the other 17 cases foreigners and were denied entry.

These figures are lower compared to those recorded in May and June when an average of 20 positive cases of Ugandan and 40 foreign cargo truck drivers would be registered.

On Sunday, of the 71 cargo truck drivers who were tested, only one Ugandan truck driver tested positive for Covid-19.

Dr Edward Muwanga, the Kyotera District health officer, attributed the reduction to the community’s positive response to the Ministry of Health Covid-19 safety guidelines.

“In early May, we used to record 20 to 25 cases per week and it was alarming,” he said during an interview on Tuesday.

“But now that the community and cargo truck drivers have responded positively to the preventive measures against corona virus, we can now even take up to five days without recording any positive case in our district,” he added.

Mutukula as a porous border had created fear of uncontrolled movement fueling the spread of coronavirus since Tanzania did not declare a total lockdown to stop the spread of Covid-19.

This forced the Ministry of Health in April to deploy more 20 health workers to beef up the team screening transit cargo truck drivers at the border post. The health workers included lab technicians, nurses, clinical officers, records assistants and counsellors.

Health ministry

Mr Emmanuel Ainebyona, the Ministry of Health spokesperson, said they prioritized border points in Uganda because they had been identified as flashpoints of infection.

“It has not been by luck that cases have reduced at Mutukula, but there has been thorough of education of the communities near Mutukula, including in Rakai and Isingiro districts, where herdsmen tend to crisscross the border,” he said.

Masaka Regional Referral Hospital, which used to receive most of the Covid-19 cases from Mutukula, has spent three weeks without admitting new patients and the treatment centre is currently empty. A total of 77 Covid-19 patients have been treated since April 21 when the facility admitted its first case, according to Dr Mark Jjuko, the officer-in-charge of Masaka Covid-19 treatment centre.