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FULL ADDRESS: Museveni relaxes Uganda coronavirus lockdown measures

The President Yoweri Museveni has begun his address. He starts off by pointing out that three questions must be asked – and answered – as regards a virus of such seriousness as COVID-19:

1. Is this disease vaccinatable?

2. Is it treatable?

3. Is it avoidable by behaviour?

“The answer to the three questions, in the case of COVID-19, is that it seems that eventually all the three are possible,” he says.

“However, number one (vaccine) is still being worked on globally – even here in Uganda. Working on the vaccine will take some 18 months.

So is it treatable? Yes, adds Museveni. Although there is no specific medicine, the body needs to be supported. The treatability, though, requires smaller numbers which the medical workers can concentrate on.

It is understood that Uganda’s index case (announced on March 21) took 16 days to successfully get treated.

Uganda tests over 38,000 samples

Altogether, Uganda has so far tested samples from 38, 845 persons on a routine basis.

Out of these, only 89 (now 97) have tested positive for coronavirus. As many as 55 people have recovered and been discharged.

“We have somehow tamed the virus, although we cannot say we have eliminated it,” says Museveni, who congratulates Ugandans for being tenacious in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

Museveni adds that the spirit of volunteerism has shamed the bad culture of opportunism and careerism.

Interstate cargo transport only spot of bother

“So how do you avoid mass infection while not committing suicide?” the President asks, to which he swiftly responds.

“By dispersing all concentrations of masses of people but allowing farming, manufacturing, construction, transport of cargo and essential services to continue. We said these ones should continue,” says President Museveni

“The majority of these have been moving well. We only got a problem with the interstate cargo transport.”

Museveni says he has engaged his East African counterparts to have the matter streamlined.

He also plans to engage his South Sudanese (Salva Kiir) and DR Congolese (Félix Tshisekedi) counterparts

There is every reason to get rid of lorries’

The matter of the truck drivers has, according to President Museveni, been a good thing of sorts.

“It has exposed the irrationality of using lorries for transporting cargo. It is cheaper and safer to use railway and water transport where they are available,” he says.

The advantages include no cargo theft, no spreading of diseases and no damaging of roads.

“So there is every reason to get rid of these lorries,” Museveni adds.

But he is keen to add that for now, it would be suicidal to stop the cargo transporters transiting. As the railway is being worked on, he urges patience among fellow Ugandans.

‘Uganda now better prepared’ to defeat COVID-19

President Museveni lays down justification for the nationwide lockdown, that saw the suspension of schools, religious gatherings, public transport, among several other measures.

“The lockdown was in order for us to understand the problem better and also to prepare better. The real issue is immunisation – getting a vaccine, which is being done,” Museveni says.

“What is available now is prevention and the treatment in the available hospitals.

The President says that the nation is now better prepared unlike the case 45 days ago. For example, local factories such as Nytil are either manufacturing or are in the process of manufacturing face masks and personal protective equipment.

Another is that the local manufacturers (38) are now making enough quantities of sanitizers while there are now 14 treatment centres at 14 regional hospitals spread across the country.

‘I salute you again, says Museveni

The President once again applauds the concerted efforts of Ugandans to control the spread of the coronavirus.

“I salute you again on account of what you have done. We have avoided images of coffins and coffins and coffins – like we have seen abroad.”

Here are the businesses that will reopen

The President has announced adjustment to the lockdown measures, with only a select number of activities allowed to either continue operating or resume operations – but under conditions.

Here they are:

– Agriculture will continue to function.

– Wholesalers will be allowed to open. But they must observe the social distancing rules. Warehouses should not apply air conditioning where there are.

Hardware shops

– Repair workshops and garages

– Metal and wood workshops

– Insurance providers

– Business and other activities have crooks – so we need lawyers. Therefore, the Uganda Law Society will be allowed a quota of 30 lawyers at any one point to provide legal services, says Museveni.

– Restaurants will be open but will be allowed to only provide takeaway services.

– Warehouses will also open.

Moving to and from work

So how will the workers of these reopened business/activities move to and from work. According the President, here is how:

1. Buses – either owned or hired by employer

2. Cycling – “This is the healthiest,” says Museveni.

3. Walking to and from work.

We shall not allow public or private transport – unless they are for essential services,” adds the President.

“The safeguard here is that these workers are known, and they can be traced all the way to their homes. That’s why this is a manageable risk.

“This means that the worker, once you are at home, you must stay at home,” underlines the President.

All other measures to remain in force for another 14 days

Ugandans moving up and about will have to wear face masks, says the President.

With the easing of the mentioned measures in this first phase of lockdown lifting, the President’s emphasis is that Ugandans should maintain the other measures of social distancing, regularly sanitizing surfaces, eating fruits and vegetables, and for people who are sneezing and coughing to self-isolate in their homes and contact medical authorities if their condition worsens.

For now, all other measures will remain in force for another 14 days, announces President Museveni, to allow experts further review the situation.

‘Avoid domestic violence, Museveni urges Ugandans

President Museveni rallies families to “use dialogue instead of fighting”.

“Avoid domestic violence. You don’t have to agree, but you don’t have to fight. Avoid domestic violence,” warns Museveni, saying that he is being told that such family discord is happening “because some families are not used to staying with each other” for long periods.

“I want to remind you that families are the purpose of life.”

Museveni warns banks and landlords

In his conclusion, the President once again warns banks and landlords against piling pressure on their clients and customers (loans), and tenants (rent), respectively.

Today, he will not read out the latest donations to the COVID-19 national taskforce, and says he will do so mid-next week.

Museveni’s parting shot is that the God that has protected us will continue to protect us – as long as we do out part of adhering to the measures in place.

And it’s a wrap!

Right then, there you go.

Clearly, it is going to be a gradual lifting of Uganda’s lockdown. For now, schools remain closed. Public and private transport (unless for essential services), religious and social gatherings as well as sports remain suspended.

As a reminder, what will reopen are the following businesses and services:

Agriculture (to continue), wholesalers, hardware shops, repair workshops and garages, metal and wood workshops, insurance providers, lawyers, restaurants (for only takeaway) and warehouses.

The reopening of these has been linked to other related activities.

For now, lights out. Take care, stay safe.

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