UGANDA DECLARES A 42-DAY COVID-19 PARTIAL LOCKDOWN WITH NEW TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS – CORONA VIRUS UPDATES IN UGANDA.
Due to a rapid increase in COVID-19 victims in Uganda’s major cities, such as Kampala, Wakiso, Masaka, Gulu and Mbarara, and others, President Yoweri Museveni in his national address on June 6th, 2021 declared a 42-day COVID-19 partial lockdown with new travel restrictions and control measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Uganda.
The president’s address came amid a serious second wave of coronavirus infections in Uganda with authorities coming out to warn against complacency. Museveni said in this second wave, we have got more numbers in two weeks than we got in the four previous months.
He noted that the new restrictions and control measures are meant to keep everyone in Uganda safe and to prevent exhausting hospital capacities. The government will continuously observe the compliance and make necessary adjustments accordingly. People refusing to follow the new regulations would be fined instead of arrested. If you fail to comply within one week, I will enforce total lockdown, he added.
Therefore, if you’re planning to visit Uganda, on Uganda Safaris, we suggest that you read these measures which will help you know what you have to do to keep safe during your Safari in Uganda OR Uganda tour.
WHEN DID COVID-19 START IN UGANDA?
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was confirmed in Uganda on 22nd March 2020. The confirmed case was a 36-year-old male who had traveled to Dubai on 17th March 2020 for a business trip. As a result, the government implements one of the tightest lockdowns in Africa. Entebbe International Airport and all land Uganda land borders were closed.
This badly hit the tourism sector due to many travelers who canceled their trips to Uganda but that was a way to control the spread of the deadly coronavirus disease. The idea of locking down the country was indeed the best weapon used everywhere and it played a crucial role in the containment of the virus.
However, because of the negative economic impacts, the government gradually lifted the lockdown as CORONA VIRUS – COVID-19 cases slowed down while enforcing the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) like the use of face masks, social distancing, and hand sanitization. Passenger vehicles were recommended to carry the half board, but by that time, the tourism was completely down as all National Parks in Uganda and other Uganda Safari destinations were closed from humans.
With time, the savannah parks were opened for domestic tourism including Queen Elizabeth National Park which is home to the tree-climbing lions, Murchison Falls National Park which is the home of the Nile River, and the world’s most powerful waterfall, Kidepo Valley National Park which is one of the most beautiful Africa safari parks and Lake Mburo National Park.
During this time Uganda Primate Parks: – Kibale National Park the home of Chimpanzees where chimpanzee tracking safaris in Uganda are done, and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park plus Bwindi Impenetrable National Parks which hosts half of the world’s Mountain gorillas remained where travelers on Uganda gorilla safaris OR Gorilla Uganda tours go for gorilla trekking in Uganda tours, were closed for to prevent the spread of coronavirus to these endangered primates which share over 97% of our DNA.
But finally, on October 1st, 2020, Uganda re-opened to international travel and tourism when Entebbe International Airport and all borders were officially opened after 6 months of lockdown. All inbound and outbound flights were allowed to move. All travelers were allowed to enter Uganda provided they provide a negative PCR COVID-19 test carried out within 72 hours. Since then, Uganda has been relatively spared from the deadly COVD-19 pandemic.
THE INCREASING CORONAVIRUS CASES IN UGANDA
The Covid-19 situation in Uganda drastically changed from May 29th, 2021 as infections started to spike and new cases, particularly among younger people, fueling fears that the country could slip into an out-of-control second wave.
In his June 6th, 2021 nation address, Museveni said he is worried that the jump in cases would exhaust the available bed space and oxygen supply in hospitals unless urgent public health measures are constituted.
Uganda had recorded as many severe and critical cases of Covid-19 in two weeks as it did in the first 3 to 4 months during the first wave. Currently, there is diffuse and sustained COVID-19 transmission in 81 districts of Uganda where the highest-burden districts: Kampala reporting an average of over 500 cases per day, followed by Wakiso and Gulu which have consistently reported over 100 cases per day; he said.
Below is a map showing the distribution of COVID-19 cases in 18 districts of Uganda from 24th May to 6th June 2021.
Museveni said, as of June 6th, 2021, the cumulative cases stand at 52,929, Reported confirmed deaths at 374 and recoveries at 43,487. Currently, we have 634 patients (Severe: 277; Critical: 37) admitted at both public and private facilities.
In this wave, the intensity of severe and critically ill COVID-19 patients and deaths is higher than what we experienced in the 1st wave of the pandemic. In the previous wave, it took us 3 – 4 months to get to the current state of critical and severe patients, while in the 2nd wave, it has taken us less than 2 weeks to get to the same situation.
Below is the National epidemiological curve, March 2020 to date (N-52,929)
The most affected age group in this current wave are the young people aged, 20-39 with observed increasing transmission among the 10-19 years; said Museveni.
Below is a graph showing the distribution of confirmed COVID-19 cases by age group (March 2021 to date; N=12,564).
WHY COVID-19 CASES IN UGANDA IS RISING?
From the recent data on projection, Museveni said, the coronavirus situation in the country is expected to increase rapidly as a result of:
a) Poor compliance by people in Uganda to follow the SOPs.
b) A total of 7of 948 reported cases in 43 schools from 22 districts. Kampala, Gulu, Masaka, and Oyam districts combined constitute 61% of the reported cases in schools and higher institutions of learning. The high number of infections in schools is largely attributed to:
• Poor compliance to SOPs;
• Inadequate sanitation facilities;
• Overcrowding in some schools;
• Failure by some school administration to monitor signs and symptoms among the learners and timely reporting;
• And concealment of infections in some schools by the school administrators.
c) Entry of new variants that the Ministry of Health first reported at the beginning of March 2021, in addition to the original Wuhan strain.
d) This is because of the travelers that would come into the country with purported negative PCR test results, yet they were infected. It is for this reason that Government, working with the private sector, instituted mandatory PCR testing at the airport for travelers, including tourists on Uganda tours from high-risk countries.
e) Sustained transmission within the communities by infected persons who fail to adhere to the principles of home-based care like strict isolation from your family, adhering to full-time use of face masks, hand washing, and no movement out of home until one is declared COVID-19 negative.
f) The generalized laxity in the response by most districts resulting in multiple clusters of transmission.
THE NEW CORONAVIRUS (COVID -19) CONTROL MEASURES AND TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS IN UGANDA
- Travel from Category (A) countries, as defined by the Ministry of Health, remain suspended except for returning Ugandans. At the moment, only India is listed as category A.
- All public transport between and across districts is suspended for 42 days effective 10th June 2021.
- All inter-district travel is banned except travel within Kampala Metropolitan (Kampala, Wakiso, and Mukono).
- Exemption for inter-district travel and movement of vehicles are:
- Registered tourist vehicles taking visitors on safaris in Uganda,
- Cargo trucks,
- Essential and Emergency Services vehicles
- Tourist vehicles and travelers on Uganda safari trips must observe the SOPs as spelt out.
- Public transportation within the same district is permitted with strict adherence to SOPs.
- Cargo trucks are allowed only 2 people.
- Private vehicles should be restricted to not more than 3 people including the driver.
- Private cars are allowed to cross the border provided they observe SOPs and occupants have a negative PCR test result.
- Ambulances, security vehicles, and garbage collection vehicles continue operating normally.
- Except for cargo trucks, Lorries, pick-ups, trains, and aircraft, the curfew shall remain at 21:00 HRS to 05:30 HRS.
- On a case-by-case basis, security will handle health emergencies during curfew.
- Boda-Bodas are allowed to transport goods and/or one passenger up to 6 pm for the next 42 days.
- All schools and institutions of higher learning to close for 42 days from June 7, 2021, starting at 8 am.
- All teachers to fully get vaccinated before they are accepted in schools.
- Prayers in churches, mosques were suspended for 42 days.
- Public and cultural gatherings were suspended for 42 days except for Judiciary, Executive, and Legislature meetings.
- Agricultural activities to continue unhindered.
- Non-agricultural activities like hotels, factories, shopping malls, supermarkets, taxi parks, markets, construction, continue with strict observance of SOPs.
- Weddings allowed with 20 people maximum with SOPs. House parties are banned.
- Burials, vigils should not exceed 20 mourners.
- Weekly open-air markets, cattle auction markets suspended for 42 days.
- Bars, discos, music shows, cinemas, and concerts remain closed.
- Sports events will operate without spectators. ALL players must have a negative PCR test.
- All public places are directed to maintain strict hygiene, ensure people coming in are sanitized before entry, physical distancing, and appropriate use of face masks at all times.
- 30% physical presence at the office for 42 days.
- Shopping arcades, hardware shops, and any other commercial entity operate under 20 strict observances of SOPs and must close at 7 pm countrywide.
- Arcades, hardware shops, to operate under SOPs, and close at 7 pm. Owners to be held liable for the breach. Pharmacies to be exempted.
- Supermarkets will remain open and operate with strict observance of SOPs and close at 7 pm.
- The food markets should continue operating but enforce SOPs.
- Lodges should be allowed to operate but the bars in these places should not be operational.
- Salons, lodges, and garages are allowed to operate up to 7 pm with strict SOPs.
- Working with the EAC member states to strengthen cross-border surveillance.
- Enforce directive and the responsibility should lie with owners of premises and with security.
- If you violate these measures, you will be fined and will have to pay financially.
THE STATUS OF COVID-19 VACCINATION IN UGANDA
The government, Museveni said, has vaccinated a total of 748,676 people across the country; 712,681 people with the 1st dose and 35,995 with the 2nd dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine out of 964,000 doses received so far.
‘Government appreciates the people of Uganda for their enthusiasm to access the vaccine since my last address: 86,377 people have been vaccinated in 7 days in comparison to 78,791 vaccinated the previous 7 days; he added.
The government is committed to vaccinating all the 21.9 million eligible Ugandans, starting with the priority groups of 4.8 million people. These priority groups are health workers – 150,000, teachers – 550,000; security personnel – 250,000; the elderly (all those above 50 years old)- 3,340,000; and people who have other diseases like cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, liver, heart, and kidney disease – 500,000.
Uganda vaccination roll-out efforts have been hampered by the global vaccine shortages and amplified by the resurgence of COVID-19 in India since February 2021. This situation in India, given its large population, has delayed the global vaccine delivery commitments to countries on time. However, Government is making all attempts to ensure that we secure additional doses to cover all the targeted groups.
Uganda is expecting to receive additional 175,000 doses of the vaccine through the COVAX Facility this week. In addition, Government will secure 300,000 14 doses of the Sinovac vaccine donated by our friends, the Chinese Government; said the president.
Uganda can easily contain its COVID-19 infection spike if all people in Uganda adhere to the COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and take personal responsibility for protecting themselves, their families, and the communities where they live and work. This can be through:-
- Wearing face masks,
- Social distancing,
- Washing hands with soap and water frequently,
- Avoiding mass gatherings,
- Avoiding touching mouth, nose, and eyes
- Avoiding closed spaces
Avoiding individuals with signs and symptoms of COVID-19 or ordinary cold, etc.
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