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Uganda High Commission in S.Africa under fire over COVID patient details

Ugandans in South Africa want action taken against Uganda’s acting commissioner in Pretoria, Kintu Nyago

Ugandans in South Africa want action taken against Uganda’s acting commissioner in Pretoria, Kintu Nyago

The ministry of Foreign Affairs is investigating the leakage of diplomatic correspondences concerning health details of Ugandans living in South Africa affected by COVID-19.

A copy of the brief dated 10th July written by Uganda’s acting commissioner in Pretoria, Kintu Nyago, addressed to Foreign Affairs minister, Sam Kuteesa gives an overview of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Ugandans in South Africa. It also lists the names of Ugandan doctors and families who have contracted the virus.

According to Nyago’s letter, four Ugandan doctors have tested positive for COVID-19 while one has died. It also goes on to mention that up to seven family members of one of the doctors have all tested positive for the virus. 

Ugandans in South Africa have since protested the action of publicizing names of the COVID-19 patients, saying it is unethical and a violation of the global health practice, and the patient confidentiality code.

“By listing in your report the names of the Ugandan doctors and their families that had contracted COVID-19, these families have since fully recovered. This act alone can cause untold stigma and related discrimination against the named family members at their workplaces, and schools.” the protest letter from Ugandans in South Africa reads.

They demand an apology from the ambassador and retraction of the letter and also administrative action taken against the ambassador. Henry Okello Oryem, the minister of State for Foreign Affairs says that ambassador Nyago should not be blamed because he was simply doing his job. According to Oryem, the person who leaked the letter should be held responsible because they betrayed their oath.

“The person who circulated that document whether from Pretoria or Entebbe is the one at fault. He has betrayed his oath of allegiance, and he has gone ahead to divulge information which is privy to the staff of ministry of Foreign Affairs. They should not blame the person who authored, he was just doing his work,” Oryem said. 

Oryem says that they are going to investigate the leakage and have the person held responsible.

“We are going to find out who and how the letter was leaked and reprimand the people who shared it in social media," Oryem said. 

Besides their diplomatic role, ambassadors and officials in foreign embassies also play a crucial role in intelligence gathering for their country about the economy, politics and the state of affairs.                   

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