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Experts Don't Know Uganda's Status Regarding Deadly New COVID-19 Strain :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Experts Don't Know Uganda's Status Regarding Deadly New COVID-19 Strain

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Dr. Misaki Wayengera, a virologist and member of the National COVID-19 Taskforce that was earlier in charge of classifying and sequencing which strains are circulating in the country, says they don’t know Uganda's status regarding the new strain since the country stopped conducting surveillance of the virus.
SARS- COV - 2 virus that causes COVID-19

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The National Covid-19 Taskforce is now like an army fighting a war without intelligence services as for sometime now they have not been monitoring, classifying and sequencing which strains of Coronavirus/Covid-19 are circulating in the country.

As such, the experts cannot tell even whether the new deadly Covid-19 strain that has caused panic in some countries has entered Uganda or not.  The new strain that is far more lethal than previously known has caused panic in several countries prompting some to consider imposing new lockdown measures. Several countries in Europe and other parts of the world are closing their borders to travelers their borders to travelers from Britain, one of the first countries to be hit. South Africans are are also being locked out of several countries because they have also registered the new, lethal strain.

When asked whether Uganda is still clear of the new lethal strain could Dr. Misaki Wayengera, a virologist and member of the National COVID-19 task force that was earlier in charge of classifying and sequencing which strains are circulating in the country, said they don’t know because the country has since stopped conducting this virus surveillance.

They stopped the vital exercise due to lack of funds.

  

However in a press briefing on Tuesday, the Ministry of Health -MOH said Uganda does not have the new strain of Coronavirus which is said to be more lethal.  Health Minister of state in charge of Primary Health Care Dr. Joyce Moriku Kaducu told journalists at the Media Center in Kampala that they are closely following trends of the new variant strain (501.V2) that has so far been reported in the United Kingdom, other parts of Europe and now South Africa and Nigeria. 

She says it has been shown to spread much faster but so far no evidence of high severity than the first strain has been reported and that Uganda has not yet recorded any case of the new strain. 

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But virologist Wayengera cannot commit to comment on Uganda's status regarding the new strain because of the discontinuation of the viral surveillance. 

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According the data that they have previously collected and has been published in the Global Medical Journal of emerging diseases, Misaki Wayengera says the viruses were linked to the countries where they originated. Those that travelled from Asia had the strain circulating in Asia and those that travelled from Europe had the strain from that part of the World. 

Explaining how new strains arise, Wayengera told Uganda Radio Network that the new strains, unlike in HIV where they emerged as result largely of  non-adherence to retro-viral therapies, in COVID-19 it’s because of the pressure of the body’s immune system where the virus changes itself to be able to survive the defense put up by the body.  

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He says the process of sequencing to establish the kind of virus circulating can be costly but adds it’s important that they re-start this surveillance considering the uniqueness of COVID-19.

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However, Uganda needs to note that the new strain is causing panic in several countries which are taking measures to restrict admission of travelers from certain countries.While receiving the new Airbus long range aircraft at Entebbe this week, Uganda Airlines officials were upbeat about the increasing flight frequencies and passenger numbers the re-launched national carrier is enjoying. Hopefully they are keeping the spectre of the new Covid-19 strain at the back of their mind.

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