healthcare

Covid-19: Uganda closes schools, suspends religious gatherings as cases surge

June 8, 2021

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni last night ordered the closure of schools and suspension of religious gatherings across the country to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.

Speaking to the country about the Covid-19 situation, President Museveni said there is a need to control the Covid-19 spread.

'All schools and institutions of higher learning should close for 42 days effective 8:00 am of 7 June 2021 (Monday),” Museveni said.

He explained that schools have become an epicenter for the virus and hence the need to close them to avoid the continued spread of the virus.

“There is an increased number of clusters of infections in schools. When the children were in villages, I didn’t hear of any infections. Now when we opened, schools have become new centers of infections,” the president added.

He noted that a total of 948 cases have been reported in 43 schools in 22 districts with Kampala, Gulu, Masaka, and Oyam districts constituting 61% of the reported cases in schools and higher institutions of learning.

According to Museveni, “All schools that had been open should close with immediate effect. The risk of staying together is bigger than that of dispersal. The reason is to avoid concentration.”

The president said that for all teachers to return to school, they should first get vaccinated.

He also directed that all religious institutions, including churches and mosques, should suspend their activities that bring together gatherings for 42 days as the government monitors the situation.

Museveni said whereas the virus was contained, starting March, there has been a surge that he partly blamed on laxity by members of the public regarding the observance of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) put in place by the government.

“It is becoming a real problem because the virus has mutated and is now attacking the young people. The whole thing has changed from recent data projection, the situation is expected to further escalate because of poor compliance by the population to follow SOPs and directives,” he said.

The president said the set SOPs should be followed by everyone.

“The most affected age group in this current wave are the young people aged 20-39 years with observed increasing transmission among the 10-19 years,” he said.

President Museveni also said the number of people at burials, vigils, marriage ceremonies, and social gatherings will be restricted to 20 people with strict observance of SOPs.

“Weekly markets and monthly cattle markets suspended for 42 days,” he added.

He said those found flouting Covid-19 rules will be fined instead of being arrested.

“Instead of arresting people who violate Covid-19 rules to fill up our jails, they will pay. Those who don't comply will be fined in monetary terms. The secretary for treasury will issue statutory instruments,” he said.

Other measures include a ban on house parties, public transportation between and across districts suspended for 42 days, all inter-district travel banned except between Kampala, Wakiso, and Mukono for 42 days, and cargo trucks are allowed to carry only two people.

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