The Ugandan government has insisted it will not evacuate students who are stuck in Chinese city, Wuhan, which is the epicenter of the deadly coronavirus disease.
On Wednesday MPs appealed for evacuation of Ugandans especially students in China
Hon. Latif Sebaggala (Indep. Kawempe North) raised a matter of national importance during a plenary sitting on 11 February 2020, saying that he has received messages from students who are concerned about their plight.
According to the letter from the students read by Ssebagala, there has been a general lack of necessities including groceries and masks.
The students added that prices of groceries have been hiked making it hard to afford.
In their letter, the five students appealed to government to use its diplomatic engagement with the Chinese government to allow for a timely evacuation.
“If other countries have evacuated their citizens, why can’t Uganda do so? We just need to ensure that they are quarantined when they return,” said Sebaggala.
Health Minister Dr Jane Aceng appeared on the floor of Parliament and told the house that the government had decided to maintain the students in Wuhan while the situation is being monitored.
Aceng highlighted some guidelines from the World Health Organisation (WHO) regarding repatriation guidelines for countries to follow in the event that a political decision is taken to repatriate nationals.
She told parliament that it is safer to keep the persons in Wuhan city, going by the guidelines.
Aceng explained that the city is on lockdown and therefore traveling to and from Wuhan is prohibited but noted the Chinese government may not refuse to release nationals.
“However, guidance given by the World Health Organisation, countries are strongly advised to assess their capacity to handle the outbreak bearing in mind that repatriation of persons from Wuhan city into the country may be introducing the virus into the country,” Aceng said.
She said the country Uganda does not have the capacity to handle the coronavirus outbreak in terms of isolation facilities in specialized equipment.
The Minister also told legislators that several airlines were contacted about flights from China to Uganda but she said they were told, flights from Wuhan may not be possible since the city is on lockdown.
Aceng told the house that the government is releasing shs220million to cater for the upkeep of the students who are stuck in Wuhan.
She said they are in constant communication with the students.