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Uganda enters tight 2nd COVID-19 lockdown, Museveni suspends transport, sets new curfew time, orders on burials and open markets

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Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has announced tight second right lockdown as country battles new spike in Covid-19 infections (PHOTO /Courtesy)

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, writes Javira Ssebwami

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.

President Museveni called the outbreak “diffuse and sustained,” with fatality and critical illness levels that were greater than the first wave.

He also aired concerns that the surge would top the country hospital capacity and oxygen supply.

To date, Ministry of Health data shows that Ugandahas registered a total of 68,778 COVID-19 cases; where 973 patients (Severe 894, Critical 79) currently on active admission at both private and public treatment facilities across the country, and 42 deaths reported on June 18.

This brings the reported total deaths to 542.

Museveni said these are reported and confirmed deaths by PCR testing, but there may be more deaths diagnosed by other means.

However, he said, “we are cognizant that both the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths may be higher than this, and the Minister of Health will accordingly explain and update the nation on this”.

However, apart from individuals fall sick or die in the community or health facilities without being tested, he said scientists have also brought to his notice situations when Covid-19 patients may falsely test negative.

“For example, the individual may have taken the test and the virus is no longer in the nose or throat, but the virus is in other parts of the body or it has already started the “body panic crisis” which in some cases may lead to death.”

“Some of these deaths may not be immediately classified as Covid-19 until further investigation is done. In the longer run, most Covid-19 related illness and deaths will be well documented”.

Museveni suspends transport, set new curfew time, orders on burials, markets

President Yoweri Museveni has re-imposed a strict total lockdown that included both public and private transport to help beat back a surge in Covid-19 cases.

Most of the new restrictions, Museveni said, would be implemented for 42 days. An assessment of their impact will then help the government decide whether to ease or prolong them, he added.

Also, except for cargo transporters (trains, lorries, pickups, etc), starting on Friday June 18, he said there will be a curfew across the whole of Uganda.

The President said his mobilisers had observed that some sections of the public were not adhering to the curfew hours (2100 Hrs to 0530 Hrs) —directing that the curfew time throughout the country be pulled back to 19:00pm to 05:30 am.

“All human beings except security and those authorized to move should be their homes, he said.

He said Boda-Bodas will only be allowed to move only up to 17:00pm.

Boda bodas and other private vehicles have been allowed to transport cargo including delivering critical patients to hospitals, the president announced.

Government workers have been ordered to stay at home for the 42 days, save for security agencies, health workers and a few other workers to be clearly communicated.

He directed the Prime Minister Robinah Nabanjja to asses situation inform government relief services.

The President announced that Entebbe International Airport will remain open, but “we shall ensure the no virus, or new variants enter Uganda”.

He said all cargo movements, to and out of Uganda will be allowed without any disruption but said
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, before directing the Ministry of Works and Transport to reactivate the operations of Seclusion Areas for Cargo trucks.

He banned Non-cargo cross-border movement, except for licensed tourist vehicles for the next 42 days.

Museveni also directed that Food Market Venders should revert to the Presidential Directive of March 2020 to stay in their places of work.

“Kikuubo and other Business Centres should be closed, and the situation reverts to the Presidential Directive of March 2020,” he added.

For burials, whereas the compliance on this has been low, he said the high-risk factor assessed is the pressure of people seeking permission to go and attend burials from place to place.

This, he explained that it poses the highest danger of spreading the virus and breaches of the strategy.

He directed that burials be restricted to the core family as applied in the military.

The United States government has already warned its citizens against travelling to Uganda to avoid the risk of contracting the coronavirus.

In its updated list, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Thursday cautioned against travel to Uganda—putting the country in Level 3 alert, meaning there is very high level of coronavirus infections.

The CDC says travel to the Uganda could expose US citizens to the risk of getting infected by the deadly virus that has been blamed for hundreds of thousands of deaths worldwide.

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