President Yoweri Museveni has ordered the closure of all schools and suspended inter-district movement, in the latest raft of measures aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus as Uganda attempts to deal with a second wave of the pandemic.
Warning that the COVID-19 situation has ‘drastically changed for the worse’, Museveni told the nation on Sunday that all schools and institutions of learning must close for 42 days effective Monday, June 7, 2021 at 8am.
Communal prayers have also been suspended for 42 days.
Museveni’s address came in the wake of a second wave that has swept across Uganda, with authorities coming out to warn against complacency.
‘In this second wave, we have got more numbers in two weeks than we got in four months previously,’ said Museveni.
Figures displayed during his address showed that the most affected age group in this current wave (from March 2021 to date) are the young people, with the 30-39 age group shown to have registered the highest number of cases, followed by the 20-29 age bracket.
‘It is becoming a real problem,’ said the President.
It is understood that based on the data, the situation is expected to further escalate because of poor compliance of standard operating procedures (SOPs) and the increasing number of clusters of infections in schools.
As many as 948 coronavirus cases have been reported in 43 schools from 22 districts, with Kampala, Gulu, Masaka and Oyam districts topping the list.
Museveni said the reasons behind this number include poor compliance to SOPs, failure in some schools to monitor signs and symptons among learners, as well as concealment of data by some school authorities.
He said the variants are ‘more aggressive’ and are causing a shift in infections to the younger age groups. As of today, 126 cases have been recorded from travellers coming in through Entebbe International Airport, with mandatory PCR testing done upon entry.
Meanwhile, sustained transmission within communities has been due to failure to adhere to the principles of home-based care, including separation from family members and wearing of masks.
The President said there is general laxity in districts yet the district task forces should be the bedrock of the national response in the fight against the pandemic.
‘The virus can only be stoped if all the people of Uganda can take personal responsible for protecting themselves – their families and where they work,’ said Museveni.
Uganda’s latest stats
Results from the COVID-19 tests conducted on Friday, June 4 confirmed 1,259 new cases, with nine deaths – another statistical high.
As of Sunday, June 6, a total of 383 have officially succumbed to coronavirus in Uganda, and a cumulative 52,935 cases confirmed. Information from the health ministry indicates that there are 634 active cases on admission in health facilities.
‘Virus has no discrimination’
Outgoing Minister of State for Primary Healthcare, Dr. Joyce Moriku Kaducu, said the virus in the second wave has emerged with many characteristics, ‘spreading rapidly – like a bushfire’.
‘It is very severe. It has no discrimination – whether you are a childm a young adolescent, it does not spare you at all.’
Kaducu said the best option to slow the virus is vaccination.
Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, the outgoing State Minister fo Health for General Duties, admitted that the virus ‘is giving us a headache as a country’.
He talked of a combination of non-observance of standard operating procedures because of complacency and the emergence of the variants as having worsened matters.
A four-million target
As of today, at least 700,000 people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in Uganda.
Some of these have since received their second shot, including President Museveni and the First Lady Janet Museveni. The First Couple took their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, June 3, after which the President rallied Ugandans to get vaccinated.
‘We started with the high-risk groups, such as health workers, teachers, the elderly, security and people with comorbidities. Our target is to cover four million people.
As of 1pm Ugandan time Sunday, June 6, AFP reported that the novel coronavirus had killed at least 3,723,381 people around the world since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019.
That statistic was based on a tally from official sources compiled by the news agency.
Globally, more than 172 million cases of coronavirus have been registered to this day. Most of these have recovered, although some, according to AFP, ‘have continued to experience symptoms weeks or even months later’.
The news agency says the figures are based on daily reports provided by health authorities in each country and that ‘they exclude revisions made by other statistical organisations, which show that the number of deaths is much higher’.