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How Uganda is protecting chimpanzees from Covid-19

The wildlife authorities in Uganda have launched strict health protocols to protect endangered chimpanzees from catching Covid-19.

Several years ago it was discovered in a national park in Ivory Coast that wild chimpanzees were able to catch human coronaviruses as they share about 98% of human DNA

Nelson Bukamba, a wildlife veterinarian at Uganda’s Kibale National Park, told the BBC’s Newsday programme that staff going into the forest now had to wear clean clothes and disinfect their shoes to ensure they did not endanger the great apes.

Visitors too have to follow strict health guidelines.

Mr Bukamaba said, “Any individual who is coming to the research sites where chimpanzees are has to undergo a 14-day quarantine… All individuals going into the forest have to take temperature measures early in the morning.”

He added that the team at the park was continuously monitoring the animals to ensure they were not caught off-guard by an outbreak of the virus:

“Because we do ongoing monitoring and surveillance; collecting non-invasive samples in form of sputum… faecal [matter]… urine, which is undergoing investigation in our laboratory, so that in case of any suspected Covid-19, we will have to do our best in terms of treatment.”

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