COVID-19: Travellers stranded at Katuna as Uganda, Rwanda close borders

Sunday March 22 2020

Several travellers were on Sunday morning seen

Several travellers were on Sunday morning seen stranded at Katuna border post after they were denied entry into Uganda following the presidential directive on closing all the border points to prevent the spread of coronavirus. PHOTOS BY ROBERT MUHEREZA 

By Robert Muhereza

Hundreds of passengers crossing through Rwanda-Uganda’s Katuna/Gatuna border post were on Sunday morning blocked from crossing into either country after authorities suspended all movements in attempt to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

President Museveni on Saturday evening ordered the closure of all Ugandan borders for both exits and entries on grounds that it would help prevent the spread of the pandemic which has forced nearly one billion people around the world confined to their homes, as the death toll crossed 13,000.

The raging pandemic has forced lockdowns in several countries across the globe, disrupting lives, travel and businesses as governments scramble to shut borders and unleash hundreds of billions in emergency measures to avoid a widespread virus-fuelled economic meltdown.
“We reached at Katuna border post few minutes to mid night on Saturday night but we were denied entry into Uganda by the security officials yet we were aware that president Museveni’s order of closing the borders was supposed to begin on Sunday at mid-day as aired on radios and television,” one of the stranded passengers, Mr Moses Muwanga said.

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Two buses belonging to Jaguar bus company were parked on the Ugandan side while three other buses from different companies were seen parked on the Rwandan side at Gatuna border post.

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The Mayor for Katuna town council, Mr Nelson Nshangabasheija, asked the Ministry of Health to pick all the stranded passengers at Katuna border post and take them to the Entebbe isolation centre for screening.
“All those passengers that were travelling from Rwanda and are currently stranded at Katuna border post should be taken to the isolation centre in Entebbe for proper screening,” Mr Nshangabasheija said.
Some of the stranded passengers at Katuna are Congolese, Rwandans, Ugandans and those from Burundi.

Uganda’s Health Minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, on Sunday morning confirmed the first case of COVID-19.
She said the confirmed case is a 36-year-old male resident of Kibuli, Kakungulu zone in Kampala, who had travelled to Dubai on March 17, 2020 for a business trip.
He reportedly returned to Uganda on March 21, 2020 at around 2 am aboard Ethiopian airlines.
On the other hand, Rwanda as of Saturday, had recorded 17 confirmed cases of coronavirus, the highest number in the East Africa region.

Rwanda has also suspended all "unnecessary movements" outside the home and clamped down on travel across its borders, in one of the toughest measures yet imposed in sub-Saharan Africa to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

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