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By Isaac Wandubile

Health Minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng has told Parliament that Government is planning to wire about Shs227m (about $61,800) to Ugandan students held in China over the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.

Earlier in the week, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga ordered Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda to appear before Parliament and address the nation on the status of students reportedly suffering under quarantine in China.

On Thursday, Rugunda invited Dr Aceng to update MPs on the status of Coronavirus in Uganda as well as efforts to evacuate the students from China as some legislators had suggested during Tuesday’s plenary.

Aceng told MPs that Government was in touch with some 105 students – 65 government-sponsored and 40 privately-sponsored – currently in China.

She also said the process of airlifting the students had been unsuccessful.

Government had contacted various airlines that have flights from China to Uganda but all had declined to help saying that chartering flights to Wuhan City was difficult because it was on a lockdown.

The minister further told Parliament that Uganda’s Mission in Beijing was in contact with the students on daily basis as they had formed a WhatsApp group that enables them to chat.

She added that Phillip Kanyoozi, a Ugandan official in China, had been designated to follow up the students.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also obtained the contacts of the next of kin of the trapped students, Aceng further revealed.

On the cash to be given to the students, Aceng said the “the funds can be sent directly to the students through the Payway system to their phones.”

The Minister further reiterated that “no Ugandan student in Wuhan has yet contracted the disease.”

On the status of preventive measures, Aceng noted that some 265 travelers from China had been isolated for follow-up purposes.

Of these, 166 are Chinese while 99 are Ugandans. The latter group includes 10 students supported by their parents to return home.

The Health Ministry will spend about Shs26bn to fund prevention measures for a period of three months.






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