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Truck drivers blamed for spread of COVID-19 in East Africa

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The number of coronavirus cases remains relatively low in East Africa, but health officials note that border crossings— through which truck drivers pass daily with essential goods — have become hot spots for coronavirus contagion.

While most of East Africa has been under varying degrees of lockdown, truck drivers are the heartbeat of regional trade who trek frequented routes in the region as essential workers.

Borders between East African countries including Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya have become sites of confusion, chaos, traffic queues and protests as truck drivers face an onslaught of new, temporary COVID-19 restrictions.

Kenya has implemented mandatory COVID-19 testing at the Namanga border with Tanzania, causing massive delays and leaving drivers stranded with perishable goods

As of May 14, least 33 truck drivers have tested positive at the border between Tanzania and Kenya in the town of Namanga. Kenyan truck drivers who tested positive were allowed to enter Kenya and self-isolate but Tanzanian drivers were denied entry and were forced to return home. It is unclear whether they were taken to health facilities to self-quarantine for 14 days or were expected to self-isolate at home.

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