Authorities in Uganda closed Amuru prison after the Ministry of Health reported on Saturday that 153 inmates and one staff tested positive for COVID-19 on a day in which the East African nation recorded its highest single day rise in cases.

Prisons, due to the numbers of inmates in them, congestion and cases of poor hygiene, have been identified as areas in which the coronavirus could spread exponentially.

“We agreed to shut down the prison for a period of 28 days to allow us spray the entire facility so that it can be used again,” COVID-19 district task force chairperson Osborn Geoffrey Oceng said.

An inmate at the prison had been admitted to Gulu Referral Hospital after he exhibited COVID-19 like signs and symptoms prompting the ministry to undertake mass testing at the facility.

The Health minister Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng said on Saturday that it was possible that a prisoner from Amuru community may have been taken to the prison with infection while asymptomatic.

Aceng said that the ministry and the Uganda Prisons Services cooperated to ensure all inmates at the prison had been moved to Gulu Main Prison for treatment and quarantine.

Meanwhile, the prison staff who tested positive together with members of their family were placed are under self-isolation at their homes, Oceng said.

Local media outlet, the Daily Monitor reported that a joint surveillance had been dispatched in Amuru town council to carryout risk assessment and contact tracing.

Amuru Districts has been identified as one of the hotspot districts with a high level of community transmission.

Uganda has so far recorded 2,263 confirmed cases, 20 deaths and 1,226 recoveries.

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