Tension as Congolese Refugee Succumbs to Covid-19 in Kyangwali Settlement

of Maratatu Primary school situated in Kyangwali Refugee settlement area. Photo by Emmanuel Okello

 A Congolese Refugee has succumbed to Covid-19 in Kyangwali Refugee settlement in Kikuube district triggering tension among the settlers.

Dr. Nicholas Kwikiriza, the Kikuube District Health Officer (DHO), says the victim is a 27-year-old male Congolese refugee and resident of Maratatu Village in Kyangwali Refugee Settlement area.

He says the deceased presented with Covid-19 like symptoms including severe headache, cough, sore throat, difficulty in breathing and chest pain among others over the weekend. He was first admitted at Maratatu health Centre III in Kyangwali refugee settlement on August 6, 2020.

According to Dr. Kwikiriza, the deceased was transferred to Hoima Regional Referral Hospital Covid-19 Treatment Unit on August 7, 2020 when his condition deteriorated. He says samples were picked from the deceased and taken to Uganda Virus Research Institute Entebbe on August 8, 2020 for testing.

However, Dr. Kwikiriza says the deceased died on August 8th, 2020 before the results from the sample were returned. Dr. Kwikiriza said this morning that the test results issued on Sunday evening show that the deceased succumbed to Covid19, which has triggered tension among health workers in Hoima and Kikuube districts.

According to Dr. Kwikiriza, reports indicate that the deceased escaped recently from the settlement area and crossed to DR Congo before he crossed back and joined his colleagues in the settlement. The deceased is suspected to have contracted Coronavirus from DR Congo.

This is the first Covid-19 case being reported in Kikuube district ever since the pandemic broke out in the country in March this year. Richard Tabaro, the Kikuube Resident District Commissioner-RDC who doubles as the Kikuube Covid19 Task force Chairperso, says they have embarked on tracing the deceased’s contacts and isolate them.

Jolly Kebirungi, the Kyangwali Refugee Settlement Camp Commandant confirmed the development but said that she was still locked up in a meeting. Located in Western Uganda near the border with DRC, Kyangwali settlement is home to more than 120,072 refugees, according to Uganda-Refugee statistics as of June 2020.

Due to its geographical location, Congolese refugees form the majority of the population in the settlement, which also host Rwandese, Burundians, South Sudanese, Somalis, and Kenyans.

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