By Xavier joreen
The Ministry of Health has taken a decision to carry out mass community testing and sampling at Kasensero landing site in Kyotera District to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Dr Diana Atwine, the health ministry’s Permanent Secretary says they have identified Kasensero landing site as one of the high risk areas for Covid-19 because it is located at the Uganda-Tanzania border.
“We have decided to do mass testing and sampling at the landing site because we got information that these people have begun leaving the site to the neighbouring communities due to the floods yet they have been interacting with Tanzanians, we can’t allow them to go into other areas without being tested,” she said while speaking to administrators of Masaka Regional Referral Hospital on Sunday.
The facility is hosting the regional Covid-19 quaratine centre where four confirmed cases are currently undergoing treatment.
Unlike cross-border cargo truck drivers from Tanzania who are screened and tested for Covid -19 on rival at Mutukula border, residents in neigbouring villages and towns walk freely on either side of the border which exposes them to the virus.
Tanzania, unlike other East African Community neighbours, has not declared a nationwide lockdown. It has, however, put in place some measures such as closing schools and colleges, banning social gatherings, prohibiting unnecessary movements and has also suspended international flights. So far, Tanzania has recorded 480 confirmed Covid-19 cases with 18 fatalities.
Dr Atwine said the Ministry is going to dispatch a health surveillance team to Kasensero this week to ascertain how many permanent residents and new entrants are in the area.
“We will base on that information to know how many random sample tests we can carry out in a single day; our target is to ensure that the virus doesn’t circulate within the population,” she said.
She also confirmed that they have received information from local leaders in Kyotera that stagnant water in areas of Kyebe and Kasensero Town Council caused by flooding from both Lake Victoria and River Kagera is exposing residents to malaria and water borne diseases such as dysentery, cholera, typhoid.
To mitigate this, Dr. Atwine said, the Ministry is going to distribute free treated mosquito nets to all residents in the area.
Dr Ronald Mutebi, the head of epidemiology in the greater Masaka sub region, said their recent survey revealed that people were freely using Lake Victoria waters to cross from Tanzania to Uganda.
Mr Charles Njuba ,a councilor representing Kyebe Sub County and also Kyotera District vice chairperson, said Kasensero Town Council has a population of about 15,000 people.
“Kasensero is a place that has many people who come and go, they need to be monitored if we are to contain the spread of the virus,”