President Museveni on Monday evening announced a ban on all movements in the country including for private cars; his latest measure to combat the spread of coronavirus.
“We have prohibited people to people movement including people using private cars, Tuk tuk and boda bodas,” Museveni said while addressing the nation on Monday evening.
Uganda with 33 confirmed COVID-19 cases is currently the third leading country in the Eastern Africa region (including the Horn of Africa) with the highest number of coronavirus cases with only Mauritius 102, Rwanda, 60 and Kenya, 38 ahead.
A number countries including Rwanda, South Africa have effected lockdowns whereas Zimbabwe is expected to do the same next week but Uganda had opted for banning of public transport means and gatherings until Monday when it increased restrictions to all non-essential movement.
A report by a select COVID19 team to Museveni called for a lockdown so as to help combat the spread of the virus.
“Total lockdown of Kampala Metropolitan should take 14 days and it is meant to limit unnecessary movement of persons in order to further address the spread of covid-19 among the population,” the report said as it advocated for the total lockdown on the three Kampala Metropolitan districts of Kampala, Mukono and Wakiso.
Citing the World Health Organisation situation report, the select team predicted that going by the current trend, Uganda will by April 15 have 1051 confirmed coronavirus cases and therefore, in a bid to prevent this, there was need to control movement of people.
The team told Museveni that the 14 days can be extended depending on the situation on the ground.
The report also warned about people moving in groups to the city centre for work that the team said would lead to the spread of the virus.
The select team also called for a ban on all private means of transport as another way of combating the spread of the coronavirus.
It was also suggested that to prevent the issue of criminality, a night curfew be implemented so that no one is allowed to move at night except law enforcement officers.
Museveni weighs in
After being presented with the report, the president looked through it before making final decisions on what should be done for the safety of citizens.
He then opted for a total lockdown of not only Kampala Metropolitan area but the entire country.
The president explained that almost all of the 33 cases of coronavirus are by Ugandans returning mainly from Dubai, Europe, USA and Afghanistan whereas only three had got it from importers.
He noted that out of the 33 cases, only 8 were intercepted at the airport or even in the quarantine centres but noted that 14 had already entered various towns, city and homes and therefore are expected to have infected many people.
Museveni said it is unknown how many people have already been infected by these returnees who freely mixed with the population.
“That is what we need to discover and soonest,”Museveni said.
He said to avert more spread of the virus there was need to put in place strict measures.
The president said because of the indiscipline of the population, there was need to put in place harsh but safer measures to combat the spread of the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
He cited an example of the ban on public transport means which saw private vehicle owners take passengers pretending to be relatives and overcharge them for their own benefit.
“Some private car owners have turned them into taxis transporting two people and we assume they are family members yet in fact they are not. For example, some one charges shs50,000 for people travelling from Kampala to Jinja,”he said.
“If people were not behaving carelessly, we wouldn’t have spread the virus. Since we are not sure, we should not take risks. That is why it is better not to take any risk by being complacent and assuming that everybody took heed when many may have not taken heed. That is why we have decided to take additional measures as follows.”
He insisted that a ban on movement of private means of transport starts with immediate effect at 10pm on Monday so as not to take chances.
“I would have given public time to adjust but it would be a wrong policy because it would give time to people to move to villages and transfer sickness to villages.”
Museveni admitted that the new measures were harsh but noted it was the right thing to do if Ugandans are to be kept safe.
“After further analysis we have realised that to be on the safer side, we rather make mistakes on side of cautiousness than wait to be like some countries where over 1000 die per day of this disease,” he said.
Museveni added, “There is less risk in taking this bitter medicine of restrictions than gambling by assuming the population was not contaminated when we are not sure.”
Museveni’s new measures on coronavirus
- Prohibit all movement including private cars
- Suspended shopping malls, arcades starting on April 1, 2020
3. Non food stores closed
4. Supermarkets remain open restricting number of people who enter at a time.
5. Established food markets in Kampala and other towns to remain open but observe four metres distance between sellers and buyers
6. Factories to make temporary camps for workers to sleep for 14 days
7. Lodges, salons closed
8. Have workers at the farms
9. Essential services like medical, door to door deliveries, security, banks, garbage collectors, cleaning services, fire brigade, water, electricity, URA, UNRA, funeral services
10.Cargo only allowed. Crew and lorries restricted to only three persons
11.Prohibited gathering of more than five people
12. Curfew starting 7pm beginning March 31
13. Government vehicles parked except for security
14. To discuss with banks, electricity companies and NWSC over bills to members of the public during this period
15. Government workers stay home except security, health workers
16. Visitors to barracks suspended
17. Government to identify and give food to needy
18. Police directed to arrest politicians found distributing food and be charged with attempted murder