By Sarah Mazirwe – Kampala, Uganda, Friday, March 20, 2020.
As nations are struggling to fight and prevent coronavirus, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, made important pronouncements in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Among the pronouncements were the closure of schools, worship centers, public gatherings, as well as a travel ban on 18 countries. Uganda has not registered any cases of coronavirus, but all the neighboring countries have cases exclusive of South Sudan. Museveni ordered that the schools and churches be closed for 30 days, while the casinos, bars be closed for 32 days.
“It is wise that we temporarily remove these concentration points by closing all the primary and secondary schools as well as all the universities and tertiary institutions for one month, starting with Friday, March 20, 2020, starting at midday. All these institutions, without exception, should close so that we deny this virus those concentrations,” Museveni said.
Museveni said having observed how the situation in other countries has been treated; he deemed it necessary to have institutions closed prior to the corona outbreak in Uganda to prevent the virus from spreading due to the fact that it is hard to detect in early stages.
“I have decided to close the educational institutions even before the occurrence of a single corona incident because I have observed the situation in other countries. Once the epidemic breaks out, there are so many stampedes that the first suspect to be affected is transported,” he added.
For religious gatherings, Museveni ordered the immediate ban and have worship done in homes to prevent the transmission in religious and worship places. He, however, encouraged the religious leaders to use the internet to reach their congregations.
“The Prayers will continue but in homes. Religious leaders can use the TVs, Radio stations to continue preaching. His Holiness, Pope Francis, as usual, set a good example of enlightenment on this by abandoning his customary preaching in St. Peters’ Square and is instead, using the TV,” he ordered.
Political, socialization and cultural gatherings have also been censored for 32 days with immediate effect. By press time, Uganda had not registered any cases of coronavirus; however, Uganda stands a high risk since all the neighboring countries exclusive of South Sudan have the virus. Kenya has registered 7 cases, Rwanda 11 cases, Democratic Republic of Congo 7, while Tanzania has 3 cases putting Uganda at high risk.
He also ordered the travel ban of foreigners from Italy, France, South Korea, China, USA, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Norway Austria, Malaysia, Pakistan, and San Marino.
“We, with immediate effect, ban all out-bound movement by Ugandans to or through these countries, again, for 32 days. Foreigners going to those countries are free to do so provided they do not intend to come back within the prohibited time,” he ordered.
Ugandans from hard-hit countries will have to go under a mandatory quarantine at a designated place prepared by the Health Ministry. For the wedding, it should have less than 10 people, to what he called “scientific wedding”.
World Health Organisation boss, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on March 18, in Geneva warned Africa to prepare for the worst as coronavirus spread locally.
Tedros said Sub-Saharan Africa had recorded 233 infections and warned that the numbers would likely be up. COVID-19 has affected 184,000 people globally and has killed more than 7500 people according to WHO.