UGANDA: MUSEVENI IMPOSES 42 DAYS’ PARTIAL LOCKDOWN AS CORONAVIRUS CASES RISE UP

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A medical staff at the UPDF fourth division army barracks taking the officers through on how to fill the consent form for COVID -19 vaccination

Kampala –Uganda: Following the surge in the number of cases of the new variants of Coronavirus that is brining Uganda into its knees, President Yoweri Museveni has come out and imposed 42 days’ partial lockdown.

In a televised address to the nation on Sunday evening, Mr. Museveni observes that Uganda has registered at least three variants of the virus which he describes as being very dangerous, “the South African, UK and Indian variants are very dangerous, they are spreading rapidly because all the SOPs were ignored.”

As of June 4, 2021, Uganda had registered cumulative cases of 52,935, and active cases on admission at health facilities of 634. More than 1,000,000 people have been tested since March, 2020. Statistics from Ministry of Health indicates that 748,676 people been vaccinated out of whom, 35,995 completed the second doze. A total of 383 have so far succumbed to the deadly virus.

Scientists disclosed that the new variants badly affect both the young and the older persons alike, unlike the previous one that was severer on the older persons other than the young ones. From October 15, 2020 to March 2021 year when schools and other higher institutions of learning were re-opened, 239 learners tested positive meanwhile with the new variants, a total of 803 learners have so far tested positive and one out of them succumbed to the virus.

The new variants have placed Kampala and Wakiso among other districts as danger zones. Museveni therefore promulgated 40 directives aimed at curbing down the spread of the novel virus.

The directives include suspension of schools and other higher institutions of learning, communal prayers in mosques, churches, stadia and other open –air venues, cultural gatherings or conferences except sitting of cabinet, legislatures and judiciary. “These suspension of public gatherings shall last for 42 days.” Said Museveni

Other activities suspended for 42 days are weekly non-food markets, all public transport between and across the districts and monthly cattle auction markets, “public transport is suspended effective June 10 to allow our children to go home.” Said Museveni

In the new directive, Museveni restricted the number of persons attending marriage ceremonies, parties, burials, vigils and funerals to 20 under strict observance of standard operating procedures. “House parties are strictly banned and this must be enforced without fail.” He warned. According to Museveni, all teachers are to get fully vaccinated before they are allowed to teach.

Ever since March last year when Uganda reported its first case of Coronavirus and announced lockdown to curb its spread, police and the Uganda People’s Defense Force were tasked to enforce some of the SOPs like curfew hours which starts at 09.00 pm local time and ends at 5:30am, ensure that bars are not operating, among others but their presence on the ground are as relevant as scarecrows.

Museveni issued a strong warning to the “corrupt police officers” saying, “I shall deal with the corrupt police who have failed to enforce the standard operating procedure.” He said he will deploy his plain clothed operatives who will apprehend those officers found receiving bribes from those found flouting the SOPs.

He also added that those found to be violating the directives shall be given express fines as deterrence measure, “violation of these measures will lead to fines that will be given out soon in a Statutory Instrument signed by the Permanent Secretary Treasury. Those who do not care about the health of Ugandans will pay financially.”

Museveni also pledged that the government will continuously observe the compliance and make necessary adjustment accordingly. “The enforcement of the above directives does not only lie with the law enforcers but also the owners of public transport organizations, owners of premises and individuals. If you fail to comply within one week, I will enforce total lockdown.” He warned

The 42 days’ partial lockdown however drew reactions from the learners. Tony Rogers Ojok, a finalist student of Gulu College of Health Sciences gave a thump –up to the president for his directives saying his action shows that he cares for the lives of the learners.

Another student only identified a Muhammad says the partial lockdown is a big blow to the country’s economy, “businesses had just start picking up, students had just reported to school and worst of it all, a course of three years will take more than five years, something which is very bad.”

James Ojok Onono, the Deputy Public Relations Office of Gulu University says the university has been closed on Monday morning and all ongoing examinations have been suspended with immediate effect, “from 05.00 am local time in the morning, the University gate was already locked and no student is being allowed inside.”

Onono disclosed that the University’s ambulance and other medical facilities like the multifunctional laboratory being used for testing COVID -19 samples shall continue operating during the lockdown period.

Observers believe that some reckless citizens would rather pay the fine than obey these tough restrictions on movements across districts.

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