Seventeen students of Mpoma Girls school are admitted in Mukono Church of Uganda hospital after inhaling teargas fired into their classrooms by police as they dispersed presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi’s supporters on Monday.
Christopher Bwire, the headteacher of Mpoma Girls school located at Mpoma village in Nama sub-county, Mukono district says that at least 30 students got hurt as police fired teargas into their classrooms where they had entered for evening preps on Monday evening.
Kampala Metropolitan police spokesman, Patrick Onyango admits that police fired teargas “around that area” as they tried to disperse Kyagulanyi supporters. However, Onyango says that they did not intend to hurt the students or fire teargas into the school. He instead blames the winds which blew the teargas into the direction of the students’ classrooms.
Bwire adds that he was forced to call for ambulance services to evacuate at least 17 students who had fainted after failing to breathe, having eye irritation and chest pains.
“Every other minute we were getting more and more students collapsing and fainting. About 70 students were grossly affected, 30 of them were critically affected. Of those, 17 were rushed to Mukono Church of Uganda hospital because they were critically ill and the rest were treated from school. As I speak, all those who were at school have been discharged from the dispensary,” said Bwire.
Some of the students who are currently admitted say that though they are now out of danger, they still feel headache and chest pain.
“From the time at school, I remember running short of breath, my eyes started irritating. We were taken to the dormitory first because even the sickbay at that time was not secure because it is closer to the fence… every time I pass out and breathing is difficult,” said one of the admitted students.
The affected students are senior four and senior six candidates who are at school to complete their academic programmes – with the rest of students still at home following the closure of schools on March 18 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Sr. Maria Ndagire, the head of the outpatient department at Mukono hospital says that by the time they received the students, they were all unconscious but by Tuesday morning, all of them were out of danger.