Uganda Extends COVID-19 Lockdown by 14 Days, Hardware Shops and Whole Sales Opened

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Gulu LC V Chairman, Ojara Mapenduzi, consoles some saloon operators demanding for food relief.

Uganda has on Monday 4th May 2020 extended its lockdown by another 14 days after it completed 45 days of lockdown. The first phase of lockdown in the country was announced on 18th March 2020 by President Yoweri Museveni during his address to the nation following the outbreak of COVID -19.

Since then, a total of 35 directives were issued by the President on the advice of the technocrats and experts to prevent the spread of the virus to the community. Among them are; imposing curfew that starts from 7 pm (16.00 GMT) to 6 am (03.00 GMT) in the morning, putting a ban on public and private transport, among others.

During his address to the nation on Monday evening, President Museveni announced that the lockdown will continue for the next 14 days starting on the 6th May 2020 as the government monitors the situation. “You cannot refuse to sleep for fear of having a bad dream. We need to start slowly opening up but without undoing our achievements.” Mr. Museveni said

However a total of eight business entities have been opened and they include; the whole sale shops, hardware shops, garages and repair workshops, metal and wood workshops, insurance companies, law firms, restaurants, and warehouses. “Other measures will stay in place for 14 days; this lockdown will help us understand the problem better to prepare for it better.” Mr. Museveni revealed

“These shall operate alongside the core strategic areas like agriculture, factories, construction, food markets and shops, cargo transport, and essential services.” He added

These business entities are to follow strict guidelines for example; restaurants are to make takeaways only while wholesale shops are to observe the social distance of two meters between the seller and the buyer and four meters between the customer and another.

Both public and private transports were ordered to remain closed but buses either owned or hired by the employers have been allowed to carry employees to and fro factories. The general public is to use bicycle or motorcycles to work or walk to their workplaces.

Mr. Museveni also directed the masses to wear face masks whenever they are leaving their homes to minimize the rate of the spread of the virus from one person to another. “The understanding and the cooperation of the masses made it easy to control the spread of the virus to the community”, Mr. Museveni hailed the general public for the compliance.

As of 4th May 2020, Uganda through the Ministry of Health conducted a total of 39,446 COVID -19 tests during the mandatory and rapid assessment tests to both Ugandan nationals and foreigners including the cargo truck drivers from the neighboring countries of Kenya and Tanzania.  

Out of those tested, 87 turned out positive for the virus. They include 55 Ugandans, 14 Tanzanian truck drivers, 12 Kenyan truck drivers, 3 Burundians, 2 Chinese, 1 Congolese, 1 Indian, and one Swedish.

Besides the gazetted national hospitals treating the patients with the virus, 15 regional referral hospitals have been equipped to treat the virus. They include; Gulu, Arua, Lira, Soroti, Mabale, Hoima, Jinja, Moroto, Mubende, Fort Portal, Kabale, Mbarara, Masaka, and Naguru hospitals.

In other developments, the local community in Uganda who survives on working from hands to mouth continue being pinched by the lockdown that led to the closure of businesses and workplaces.

On Monday morning, over 50 saloon operators and hairdressers in soon to be Gulu City stormed the Resident District Commissioner’s office demanding for food aid.

A few of the women who spoke to Black Star News in an interview said Gulu District COVID -19 Taskforce Chaired by the RDC should give them food aid as their families are starving following the lockdown that rendered them jobless and vulnerable.

Alice Aciro, a single mother of seven who is one of the saloon operators at Industrial area, Layibi Division in Gulu Municipality says the lockdown caught them off guard since they had not saved much money to help their families during this current lockdown.

“I have orphans that I’m looking after and my business was closed abruptly, the little money I saved before the lockdown is now finished. Even the little foodstuff I had is no more, now my household is surviving of wild vegetables and leftovers from people’s gardens.” Says Aciro

Aciro revealed that her family is currently surviving on wild vegetables and leftovers from peoples gardens and that they eat once a day at 9 O’clock (18.00 GMT) in the night.

Another hairdresser at Industrial Area, Layibi Division in Gulu Municipality identified as Paska Akongo aged 37 and a single mother of five revealed that on Sunday night, she mingled only posho for her children to eat since there was no money to buy source.

Pamela Akello aged 27, a mother of four and a resident of Ariaga Parish, Laroo Division in Gulu Municipality expressed her fear that her landlord might throw her out since she had not paid her rent for the past two months.

She says the government should ease the lockdown so that some people who are finding life very hard in the urban centers travel back to the villages to begin farming.

As the government gives false hopes about the distribution of food items to the affected people in the country, Northern Uganda among other regions; has not yet received those food reliefs. The food items were distributed in Kampala and Wakiso district, something that raised a lot of concerns from the general public.

 The latest statistics released by the Ministry of Health indicates that Uganda’s confirmed cases have reached one hundred cases. Two are at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital with many people now enforcing the wearing of face masks.

 

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