President Yoweri Museveni has said government will maintain all the lock-down measures in place in relation to schools, arcades and religious gatherings as it is too risky to ease restrictions.
He said this as he addressed the nation on measures to contain the COVID-19 pandamic.
“With the school population, let us be patient. In the meantime, we are going to launch a big long-distance education programme, certainly through radios. We are going to give free radio-sets to all homesteads,” said Museveni.
Uganda has since March registered 774 cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Cases have been traced in 33 districts in the country.
Countrymen and countrywomen.
Greetings from the Government and the political leadership of the country. Congratulations on our battle against the corona-virus, against the floods, against the rising waters of the Lakes and the Rivers, against the land-slides, against the floating islands and against the locusts. The locusts have been defeated by the UPDF and the floating islands were cleared by the Ministry of Works and Transport. The floods, unfortunately, caused the deaths of 16 people in the areas of Kasese, Bundibugyo, Isingiro and Kween; but the Government was able to provide relief to the displaced people. The rising waters of Lake Victoria could not damage our Electricity Power Dams because, unlike in 1964, the Government had built the new canal that takes water to the electricity station on the Jinja side, the Kiira Power station, which canal added itself to the western canal, on the Njeru side, that takes water to the old power station of Nalubaale. This enables us to, if necessary, open for 3000 cubic metres of water per second to flow out, unlike in 1964 when they could only open for a maximum of 1300 cubic metres of water per second.
This enabled us to go from releasing the 600 cubic metres per second to 2400 cubic metres per second, thereby saving the dams of electricity and also preventing flooding around the whole of the Lake Victoria basin. The Ugandans that had encroached on the beaches, should peacefully vacate so that they do not suffer losses in future and do not damage the environment as they have been doing by causing the Lake to silt, etc. The floating islands were quickly removed by a combined engineering Task Force, led by the Ministry of Works, using the magnificent Earth Moving Equipment we bought from Japan. On all this capacity for resilience, I congratulate the Government and the Ugandan people for coping effectively with these challenges.
However, for today, the main attention is on the corona virus. When this global catastrophe descended from China, through Europe and the Gulf countries, to East Africa, after quickly conferring in depth with our scientists, we promptly realized that, for now, this enemy could only be handled in two ways, as I have told you before. The two ways are: avoiding the virus by tonsemberera, otampika, Luo-bed-mabor-ki-lawoti, Ateso-mum-ibuni-eiduny-kede-eong, Lugbara-miesimimavuko, that the poor English language can only describe as social-distancing; using masks so that your rwoya (what the poor English calls droplets), referring to the vaporous breathe that comes out of us that you can see as mist if you blow your breathe against the mirror or even glass spectacles, does not carry the virus from you to another person; sanitize surfaces where the virus can survive for up to 4 days on surface of, for instance, table-tops, door handles, chairs, arm-rests, micro-phones, etc.; regularly washing your hands with water and soap or use sanitizers; and never touching yourself in the soft parts of your body such as the eyes, the nose and the mouth with unwashed hands. All this is method one that we could see was available immediately.
The second method, was to enable the body to fight the virus by treating the treatable diseases the victim may have, known as co-morbidities, such as diabetes, blood pressure, the cancers, HIV, etc. and boosting the defenses of the body by giving the victims the necessary vitamins, the other drugs that help the efficiency of the body such as hydroxy-choloroquine and the drugs that control the over-reaction of the body to the invasion by the virus.
Some diseases kill by provoking the body to over-react by panicking and producing too many body soldiers, in a non-coordinated way, ending up chocking up (kuniga) or blocking (kwigaza) the transport routes of the body (the blood vessels ─ emitsi) and inflaming the surrounding areas (the tissues). These were the two available ways: avoid the virus and assist the body to fight the virus if, for some reason, the avoiding has not worked.
The other two ways of defeating the virus are still being worked on, both here and abroad. These are the way of a vaccine (kugema, kutsirika) and the way of getting drugs that attack the virus directly and disable it or kill it, rather than just helping the body to fight it. We are hoping for success on the two fronts also.
In order to utilize the two available ways, between the 18th of March and the 1st of June, 2020, we announced a total of 35 measures in order to avoid the virus and treat the few that could not avoid catching the virus. Those measures were the following:
1. Close all the Educational Institutions.
2. Suspend communal prayers.
3. Stop all gatherings or conferences.
4. Banned Ugandans from moving to or through category one (I) countries.
5. Initially, allowed returning Ugandans provided they undergo mandatory quarantine, at their cost, for 14 days.
6. Allowed the non-agricultural gathering points e.g. factories, hotels, large plantations, etc.
7. Discouraged the hexagonal, extravagant Ugandan-style weddings.
8. Burials for a maximum of 10 people.
9. Suspended weekly or monthly markets.
10. At that time, allowed the public transport systems.
11. Suspended all the discos, dances, bars, sports, music shows, cinemas and concerts.
12. Advised the public to maintain hygiene measures.
13. Advised the public on good nutrition.
14. Stopped all passengers coming into Uganda by air, land or water.
15. Prohibited pedestrians from entry into the country from the neighbouring countries.
16. All public passenger transport vehicles were stopped.
17. Only food sellers to remain in the markets.
18. Private vehicles allowed to continue but with only 3 people maximum per vehicle.
19. Ambulances, army vehicles, garbage collection vehicles, etc., would continue moving if needed.
20. Banned the movement of all privately owned passenger vehicles.
21. Suspended the shopping arcades, shopping malls, hardware shops.
22. Directed all the non-food shops (stores) to close.
23. The super-markets were allowed to remain open at that time.
24. Established Food Markets in Kampala and the other towns were allowed to continue being open.
25. The food sellers were not allowed to go home during the 14 days.
26. Salons, Lodges and garages were ordered to be shut for the subsequent 14 days.
27. Like the farms, factories were allowed to remain open.
28. Construction sites were allowed to continue operating if they were able to encamp their workers.
29. The essential services i.e., the medical, agriculture, etc., were allowed to continue to operate.
30. Cargo transport by train, plane, lorry, pick-up, tuku-tukus, bodaboda and bicycle, were allowed to continue operating but only with minimum numbers of crews;
31. URA could not to close business;
32. Later, gatherings of more than 5 persons were prohibited.
33. The prohibitions for in-coming and out-going means of transport did not include the cargo planes, lorries, pick-ups and trains;
34. Health emergencies were allowed;
35. Boda bodas to stop at 5:00pm
As a result of those measures, we have been able to blunt the invasion of the virus. Why do I say that? It is because, after more than 90 days of battle with the virus, Uganda has only got 774 positive cases of corona-virus after testing a total number of 170,789 persons. There were 1,067 non-Ugandans that tested positive but we sent them back to their respective countries. Within the figure of 774 of the Ugandans that are positive, 373 are truck drivers. Therefore, the graph of Uganda is as seen below, along with the graphs of other countries:
Moreover, none of the corona-virus infected persons has died. Instead, out of the 774 that have been found positive, a total of 631 have been treated in the manner described above and they have healed and have been discharged from hospital.
Therefore, as far as the death curve of Ugandans from the corona-virus, the graph of Uganda, together with other countries is as here below:
However, as I told you when I last addressed the country on the 1st of June, 2020, these lockdowns cannot and should not be in force forever. They affect sections of the economy.
Therefore, last time, the following measures were directed:
1. The shops selling general merchandize were allowed to open provided they were not in the shopping malls, the shopping arcades and the food markets.
2. The heroic market women that had been sleeping in the work places for all those days, were allowed to go home and come back to work daily if they wanted to.
3. Opening of the public transport means of mini-buses, buses, taxis, provided they carry only one half of their normal capacity plus the conductor except in the 42 border districts.
4. Hotels and food restaurants were allowed to open but had to observe social distancing.
5. People with private cars were allowed to drive as long as the car did not carry more than 3 people, including the driver. However, this relaxation of restrictions on private transport does not extend to the 42 border districts (including island districts).
6. Shopping malls, starting with the 4th of June, 2020, were allowed to open provided they observe social-distancing.
The guiding logic in all this, is not wealth, business, jobs or convenience. It is life. Do we live even when businesses suffer and jobs are lost or do we continue doing business, making money and die? I, unhesitatingly, choose life. That is the logic. Moreover, with discipline, we can even have both: life and wealth. This is provided we do what is recommended.
Attached herewith are the results of the tests for the last 96 days:
As you can see, the number of drivers that are testing positive is reducing. Unfortunately, we are getting new positives case from within thepopulation that are mostly linked to either the drivers or the infiltrators from the neighbouring countries.
Hence, 62 of the positive cases are from Kyotera and 59 are from Amuru. This is on account of the elements that come through the porous borders. Since many people end up in Kampala and with the opening of the public transport system, although with some restrictions, we are beginning to see cases in Kampala. The number is now 37.
We are, therefore, entering a more dangerous phase. Previously, the problem was from the returnees from abroad, from the drivers and from those who pass through the porous borders from the neighbouring countries. However, with the re-opening of the public transport and the movement of private cars, we are beginning to get cases of people who are positive but whose source of infection you cannot easily trace. If somebody picked the infection in a bus or a taxi where people were not observing the SOPs, how will you easily trace those who were in the bus or taxi with him or her?
Therefore, our scientists have been tasked to audit all the remaining restrictions and advise. In particular, some of the stakeholders have been petitioning the leadership to, more or less, completely re-open all the activities of the country. Whenever I get such requests, I refer them to the scientists. Here below is their response: