The government has attributed rising cases of fake Covid-19 test certificates to actions of fraudsters within labour export companies.
According to the Ministry of Health, the fraudsters are forging results and have made attempts to hack into their results control system.
The country risks being placed on the red list for violating international health regulations on travels as a big number of travellers from Entebbe International Airport with Covid-19 certificates indicating negative results are turning out positive when subjected to a re-test at their final destination.
Addressing journalists in Kampala yesterday, Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the ministry’s spokesperson, said investigations are ongoing.
“It is true that a number of migrant workers, whose origin has been Entebbe International Airport, have been testing positive [for Covid-19] at their final destination. This was as a result of forgeries of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) certificates. Also some unscrupulous individuals have made an attempt to hack into government results system,” he said.
Mr Ainebyoona said they are doing free confirmatory tests for migrant workers who already have Covid-19 certificates for tests done within 72 hours.
The re-test is being done by the government reference laboratory, Uganda Virus Research Institute and Central Public Health Laboratories.
A July 8 letter from Dr Diana Atwine, the Ministry of Health permanent secretary, stated that the confirmatory tests are being done “to protect the credibility of our health system at meeting international obligations and to deter further blacklisting of our country from international travel arrangements.”
“…with effect from July 11 at 12am, the Ministry of Health will retest migrant workers, 24 hours before their flights. This will be done at a free cost under a government of Ugandan laboratory arrangement,” she said.
Dr Atwine said the position was reached following the high-level inter-ministerial meeting held on June 28 among the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Gender, Civil Aviation Authority and Entebbe Port Health.
“The Ministry of Health is committed to ensuring that all international travels through Entebbe International Airport, including for migrant workers are facilitated with minimal interruptions while at the same time meeting the Covid-19 international health regulations,” she added.
A June 28 letter by Dr Atwine states that “attempting to hack into and compromise the integrity of Government Central Covid-19 Results Dispatch System so that names of travellers and their results are simply entered into the system without undergoing testing.”
Mr Daniel Mutatina, one of the officials at Supreme Link Limited, a labour export company, said the fake certificates being presented by the migrant workers are obtained from laboratories accredited by government to do Covid-19 testing.
“If you scan the QR code for the Covid-19 test certificate presented by migrant workers, you find that the same results are also in the Ministry of Health system,” he said.
Ms Enid Nambuya, the executive director of Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies, said: “I have heard that some people are paying [to get Covid-19 certificate indicating negative results] without being tested but I have no proof. The re-testing is a good move. This makes us much surer of the status of the people we are externalising. We appreciate the government for the free tests.”
Last month, the government through ministries of Internal Affairs and Gender, Labour and Social Development announced that eight external labour recruitment agencies had been suspended because of forging papers and other abuses such as trafficking and extortion.
Source - The Daily Monitor
Tanzania’s major cities are worst hit by a third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, President Samia Suluhu said, while urging citizens to take precautions to protect themselves.
Speaking at Kibaigwa, Morogoro in central Tanzania, on her way from the capital Dodoma on Wednesday, President Suluhu expressed her shock when she saw hundreds of people without masks.
“This third wave is already in the country and there is nothing to hide. We have patients in Kagera, Arusha, Mwanza, Dar es Salaam and even Dodoma,” she said.
“I have seen here that just a few people are wearing masks and doing so incorrectly with only their mouths covered leaving open their noses. Therefore, I call upon everybody to take precautionary measures against Covid-19 as directed by health experts,” she said.
The President said in Dodoma, while the number of patients is small, the cases should sound a warning to citizens to be more alert in order to prevent deaths as reported in other countries.
Ms Sululu urged wearing masks whenever in public gatherings.
Source - The East African
Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio has reimposed a nationwide curfew as part of new measures aimed at curbing rising Covid-19 cases. President Bio, in a televised address on State broadcaster SLBC on Monday, said the month-long curfew would run from 11pm to 5am. He also banned congregational worship for a month, starting Friday, and said restaurants and bars will close at 9pm daily. The President also announced that funerals, weddings and all other social events will have a maximum of 50 participants. The country is grappling with a third wave, which the government says has seen both infections and fatalities rise exponentially. Data from the National Covid-19 Emergency Response Center (NaCOVERC) show that Sierra Leone has recorded its highest numbers in June. As of Monday, the country had recorded 5,652 cases and 102 deaths. Reasons for concern President Bio said the new anti-virus measures were based on experts’ advice, following careful data analysis. He also noted the existence of the deadlier ‘Delta’ variant of the coronavirus, which NaCOVERC says is fueling the third wave. “More people have tested positive for Covid-19 in the last few weeks. More people have been hospitalised and 72 percent of beds in treatment and care centers are occupied. More people are dying and the western area is the epicenter of the latest infections,” the President said in his address. “We have assessed the data and carefully examined patterns of infection. We have closely looked at the trends. We believe we must take urgent steps to stem this third wave of the pandemic in Sierra Leone and thus save lives and protect livelihood.” The measures will be reviewed regularly as advised by medical experts, Mr Bio said and asked the public to adhere to the basic rules of social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands regularly. President Bio also reiterated calls for the public to trust the safety of the Covid-19 vaccine and get the jab. Country’s tack record Sierra Leone recorded its first Covid-19 case on March 31, 2020. Since the second wave, the country was praised for keeping cases and fatalities low, compared to its neighbours, until the third wave was confirmed. Two weeks ago, the World Health Organization ranked Sierra Leone, its neighbour Liberia and the southern African nation of Namibia as countries with some of the highest case numbers. Sierra Leone was one of the first countries to impose restrictions, making the move even before recording its first case of the deadly disease. It imposed a one-year state of emergency, a nationwide curfew and occasional lockdowns, restrictions which were lifted exactly a year ago.
The head of DR Congo's fight against Covid-19 warned Thursday of "catastrophe" if the Delta variant keeps rapidly spreading in the country, saying hospitals were already overwhelmed and morgues overflowing.
Africa has largely been spared the worst of the pandemic seen elsewhere, but DR Congo's case numbers have jumped over the last month and the highly contagious Delta variant now represents 84 percent of infections.
DR Congo recorded 112 new cases over the past 24 hours, including 76 in the capital and epicentre of its epidemic Kinshasa, raising the country's total to 41,353. It has also recorded a total of 933 deaths.
Jean-Jacques Muyembe, head of the National Institute of Biomedical Research (INRB) and the person charged with the country's coronavirus response, said the "evolution of the Delta variant is very worrying".
"The contamination is rapid and if it continues, it will be a catastrophe in the DRC," he told an online press conference held by the World Health Organization's Africa office.
"Our hospitals are overwhelmed, the morgues are overflowing, many politicians and university professors have been infected with the virus, and many have died."
WHO Africa said the Delta variant, which first emerged in India, has now been reported in 16 countries on the continent.
"It is the most contagious variant ever detected, with a rate of transmissibility 30 to 60 percent higher than other variants," WHO Africa said at the press conference.
WHO Africa director Matshidiso Moeti said quick action must be taken "to strengthen prevention measures and avoid an emergency situation transforming into a tragedy".
DR Congo, like other African countries, is suffering from a crippling shortage of Covid vaccines.
"We are expecting five million doses, which will be a mixture of two or three vaccines, to paid for directly by the government," Muyembe said, adding they would arrive on Monday.
Source - The East Africa