Analysis

Here is a list of new COVID-19 directives as Uganda enters tough lockdown

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Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni (PHOTO /File)

Amid a worrisome rise in cases in Uganda, President Yoweri has reimposed a total lockdown as part of an effort to prevent its COVID-19 surge from overwhelming the healthcare system.

In a televised address, Museveni said the total lockdown will help the country to battle stubborn spike.

The new revised lockdown is set to last 42 days and includes the closure of schools, open-market shutdowns, suspended church services and a total ban on both private and public transport.

The country’s surge started a month ago and is also affecting younger people.

 

I am revising and updating ALL the directives I issued on the 6th June 2021.

The revision is as follows:

1. Public and private transport: It has been observed that Taxis/ Boda-Bodas drop passengers at district boundaries (relay system) to be taken over by their colleagues waiting across the boundary districts which may result in further spread of the virus in communities. Additionally, it has also been observed that
despite this directive, human beings walk across district boundaries. This therefore has not achieved its intended purpose.

Furthermore, the movement of individuals fuels virus transmission, and without limiting the movement of persons which leads to mixing and re-remixing of individuals in the different categories of infected and non-infected. This needs to be stopped since and is the cornerstone of the current exponential transmission drive.

Directives:

(a) Across the country, the Resident District Commissioners working with the Chief Administrative Officers and their District Health Officers are directed to make all the necessary arrangements to ensure all individuals that require medical care and medical evacuation in their respective districts, COVID-19 or otherwise are taken care of.

(b) Only registered tourists’ vehicles will be allowed to move. These should move directly to their destinations and designated places.

(c) Emergency vehicles, police and army vehicles, and essential workers vehicles will be allowed to move.

(d) I have defined the ESSENTIAL SECTORS and where there is need for additional clarity, The Rt Hon Prime Minister will study such and communicate accordingly.

(e) Among the Essential Health workers include doctors, nurses, pharmacists, veterinary doctors, and other essential health staff. Details of other essential sectors will be worked out by the Rt. Honorable Prime Minister and her team. The essential workers will be given specific identification

2. Curfew:

It is observed that some sections of the public are not adhering to the curfew hours (2100 Hrs to 0530 Hrs).

Directive:

(a) As such, the curfew time throughout the country is pulled back to 1900Hrs to 0530

Hrs. All human beings except security and those authorized to move should be their homes.

(b) Boda-Bodas will only be allowed to move only up to 1700Hrs.

3. Educational Institutions:

Observation: Testimonies from credible sources indicate that schools had been deliberately silent about infections among students due to fear of closure.

Directives:

(i) All schools and institutions of learning remain closed for 42 days

(ii) The Ministry of Health to reactivate Village Health Teams (VHTs) under the Community Engagement Strategy (CES) to strengthen sensitization of the communities.

(iii) The Ministry of Local Government is hereby directed to support the Regional Task Forces (RTFs) and District Task Forces

(DTFs) to be reactivated and supported to enforce compliance of all SOPs.

(iv) The Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning is directed to support the Regional Task Forces (RTFs) and District Task Forces (DTFs) should be reactivated and supported to enforce compliance of the existing SOPs.

4. International and Cross-Border Travels: Entebbe International Airport will remain open, but we shall ensure the no virus, or new variants enter Uganda. Uganda’s land locked country. All cargo movements, to and out of Uganda will be allowed without any disruption.

Directives

(a) Cargo truck drivers at land-border crossings will be tested allowed to move and be followed up at the designated Seclusion Areas and holding places for Cargo trucks.

(b) The Ministry of Works and Transport is hereby directed to reactivate the operations of Seclusion Areas for Cargo trucks.

(c) The Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) to monitor compliance of particularly the private cars allowed to cross the borders to ensure total observance of the SoPs and guidelines.

(d) Non-cargo cross-border movement, except for licensed tourist vehicles is hereby suspended for the next 42 days.

5. Non-agricultural activities and markets: Efforts have been made to bring on board different actors including Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and Ministry of Works and Transport (MoW&T) among others. However, the surge of crowds has not sufficiently subsided despite the effort to enforce social distancing and the use face masks. This might not take away the danger of spreading COVID-19 as envisaged.

Directives:

(a) Food Market Venders should revert to the Presidential Directive of March 2020 to stay in their places of work.

(b) Kikuubo and other Business Centres should be closed, and the situation reverts to the Presidential Directive of March 2020.

6. Burials: Whereas the compliance on this has been low, the high-risk factor assessed is the pressure of people seeking permission to go and attend burials from place to place. This poses the highest danger of spreading the virus and breaches of the strategy.

Directive:

(i) Burials to be restricted to the core family as applied in the military.

(ii) The Committee I put in place during my last address – led by Major General Rusoke and Dr. Musenero should ensure the institution of a well-coordinated mechanism which enables a few family members to transport dead bodied for burial. RDC and DPC should ensure that all SOPs are observed and not more than 20 people attend burial. And avoid gatherings and visits to the deceased family after burials which will promote spread of the virus.

7. Bars, Discos, Sports Betting, and Cinema Halls: Despite the directive, the bar owners and clients have not fully adhered.

Directive:

(a) KCCA, URA and Local Government authorities are directed to close and seal off all the bars. Police should accordingly arrest and charge with hefty fines imposed for reopening.

(b) It serves no purpose arresting the revelers while allowing the owners to reopen the following morning.

8. All other sectors which are not specifically mentioned should consider themselves closed for the next 42 days.

9. Institutions and Organizations: Although most offices have complied with the 30% physical presence at the workplace, the directive ought to be reviewed. Current information so far obtained indicates that despite this scale down, infection rates in this area are very high. I have thus revised this.

Directive:

(a) Further reduction to 10% in Non-core Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

(b) The Rt Hon Prime Minister working with the Ministry of Public Service and the Ministry of Health will re-define the Non-Core MDA

10. Factories and construction sites: Whereas this directive is being adhered to, it remains

tricky because in some areas, workers have cross different districts to reach their places of aboard. Therefore, a well-intended plan could yield less because of circumstances.

Directive:

Where possible, the workers MUST be housed at places of work for the next 42 days. I encourage factory owners to work with the Ministry of Health to ensure only uninfected workers enter the camps.

Where camping is not possible, the factory owners should work together with the Technical Committee to agree on a safe alternative to enable factory activities to continue safely during the lock down period.

11. Places of worship: The churches, mosques, and sports sessions are congregating settings and are a source that fuels rapid virus transmission.

Directive:

All places of worship and sports events remain suspended for 42 days

12. The Monitoring of the compliance and adherence to these directives:

The Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), working together with the Technical Intersectoral Committee under Maj Gen Robert Rusoke are directed to closely monitor the compliance and enforcement of these directives.

Except where specifically stated, all these measures take IMMEDIATE effect and will last 42 days when I will make subsequent revision.

For our lives to continue, the following sectors fully function: (a) agriculture, (b) industry, manufacturing and tourism, (c) health and medical services, (d) security (police and army), (e) utilities (water, electricity, mass media, telecoms, banking institutions, garbage/waste management, retail shops and markets), (f) cargo transport and goods distribution. I have thus categorized these sectors as essential sectors.

At this critical moment, I wish to call upon all the leadership structures throughout the country. Every village has community health workers known as Village health teams (VHTs) who are in touch with families and keep records on the health status of the villages. For example they know how many people are in the village, how many are pregnant, how many children etc. These VHTs should now be leveraged to increase population awareness, support for SOPs and affected households.

The district based governance structures are all in place with salaried staff and should take charge of the situation and support awareness creation and enforcement.

The Ministry of Local Government has undertaken mobilization of these leaders and they are fully aware of their roles in the COVID-19 response. All district Covid -19 Task forces are hereby called upon to awaken the national wide response system up to the community level.

Update of vaccination:

The above measures will give us a temporally relief, however, we know that the ultimate solution to this Covid-19 challenge is to get our people vaccinated. To date, we have vaccinated a total of 869, 915 people, which accounts for 90.2% of the 964,000 doses received. Of these 57,797 (6.6%) have received both 1st and second dose. Yesterday, 17th June 2021, we received another 175,200 doses and we are expecting additional 688,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine in early August. I have directed that these doses be prioritized to give second dose to those who have got already got their first dose.

Government is working with Chinese embassy to bring in 300,000 doses of vaccines (Sinovac) and discussing modalities of acquisition of more doses through direct purchase.

We are also in discussions with African Union on terms of acquisition of the Johnson and Johnson vaccines. The government will continue to explore all ways of fast tracking the acquisition of enough vaccines to vaccinate a critical mass of our population to ensure the country returns to normal operations

Conclusion

Finally, to all of you Countrymen and Women, these are urgent and temporary, but extra-ordinary measures, which we as the Nation must jointly and fully embrace to protect and preserve our lives, our ways of life, the way we live, and our future.

It is only through these measures that we shall in a long run protect our economy, preserve our democracy and sustain the NRM revolution.

Thank you

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