Uganda Imposes a Partial 42 Days’ COVID-19 Lockdown with New Travel Restrictions – Uganda Coronavirus Updates
Following the rapidly increasing numbers of COVID-19 victims in busy cities of Uganda i.e. Kampala, Wakiso, Gulu, Mbarara, among others, President Yoweri Museveni in his June 6th, 2021 nation address, Uganda imposed a partial 42 Days’ COVID-19 lockdown with new travel restrictions and new measures – (Uganda Coronavirus Updates) to control the spread of COVID-19 in Uganda
Museveni’s address came in the wake of a second Coronavirus 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 the President.
He also stressed that the new restrictions are intended to keep everyone in Uganda safe including the travelers and to prevent exhausting hospital capacities.
They will remain in place for 42 days. People refusing to follow the new regulations would be fined instead of arrested, he added.
Therefore, if you’re planning to travel to Uganda on a Uganda gorilla safari trip, we suggest that you read these measures and it will help you know what you have to do to keep safe during your Uganda gorilla trekking safari in Uganda tour.
WHEN WAS CORONA VIRUS (COVID-19) FIRST REPORTED IN UGANDA?
Coronavirus is confirmed to have reached 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.
Since then, this East African country had adopted strong measures to control the spread of the virus. The Entebbe Airport and all Uganda land borders were closed. This surely hit the tourism sector so bad as many visitors canceled their Uganda gorilla safaris but that was a way to curb down the spread of coronavirus.
However, due to economic depression, the government of Uganda started to slowly ease the COVID-19 lockdown while enforcing the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) such as the use of face masks, hand sanitizer, social distancing among others.
The passenger vehicles were required to carry half their capacity, but by that time, the tourism sector was completely down since all Uganda safari parks including Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, among others were closed from human visitors.
On the 1st of October 2020, Uganda 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 incoming travelers were allowed to enter Uganda provided they show a negative PCR COVID-19 test carried out within 72 hours. Since then, the country has been relatively spared from the deadly coronavirus.
THE RISING CORONAVIRUS CASES IN UGANDA
From May 29th, 2021, the Covid-19 situation in Uganda has drastically changed. President Museveni said 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.
He said, currently, there is diffuse and sustained CORONA VIRUS – (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.
The Map below shows 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, 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.
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).
Distribution of confirmed Covid-19-Cases By Age Group
REASONS BEHIND THE RISING CORONAVIRUS CASES IN UGANDA
Museveni said from the recent data on projection, the Covid-19 situation in Uganda is expected to further escalate as a result of:
- Poor compliance by the population to follow the SOPs.
- Failure in some schools to monitor signs and symptoms among learners.
- Entry of new variants that the Ministry of Health first reported at the beginning of March 2021, in addition to the original Wuhan strain. 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 gorilla tours from high-risk countries.
- 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.
- The generalized laxity in the response by most districts resulting in several clusters of transmission.
WHAT DO THE NEW COVID-19 CONTROL MEASURES IN UGANDA MEAN?
- Travel from Category (A) countries, as defined by the Ministry of Health, remain suspended except for returning to Ugandans. At the moment, only India is listed as category A.
- All public transport (Buses, Taxis, Boda Bodas) between and across districts are 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 gorilla safaris in Uganda,
- Cargo trucks,
- Essential and Emergency Services vehicles
- Tourist vehicles and travelers on Uganda gorilla trips must observe the SOPs as indicated out.
- Public transport within the same district is allowed with strict observance of 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 are allowed to operate normally.
- Curfew shall remain at 21:00 HRS to 05:30 HRS and vigorously enforced except for cargo trucks, Lorries, pick-ups, trains, and aircraft.
- For health emergencies during curfew, this will be dealt with by security on a case-by-case basis.
- 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.
- Salons, lodges, and garages are allowed to operate up to 7 pm with strict SOPs.
- Lodges should be allowed to operate but the bars in these places should not be operational.
- 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.
- Violation of these measures will lead to fines and you will pay financially.
COVID-19 VACCINATION STATUS IN UGANDA
Museveni said the government 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 Ugandans’ 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; said, Museveni.
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.
President Museveni said the current rise in COVID-19 infections in Uganda can only be stopped if all people in Uganda take personal responsibility for protecting themselves, their families, and the communities where they live and work.
He added that the country has well-established structures for coordinating and governing the population such as LCs in all the villages, cultural and religious leaders, and organized groups such as taxi or Boda Boda operators. We used these structures in the past to defeat HIV, Ebola, and other epidemics.
In October 2020, the government launched the National Community Engagement Strategy for COVID-19 Response which has been distributed to all the districts in Uganda. This Strategy has guided on how to establish Village Covid -19 Task Forces (VCTFs) across all the 146 districts and how to provide Home Based Care when needed, said the president.
The president appealed to all district leaders including LCs, cultural and religious leaders to use existing structures and systems to ensure that SOPs are observed in the villages and during village functions and the Village Health Teams are supported to mobilize people to report illness and support communities as guided in the MOH guidelines for home-based care and support.
He further urged all people in Uganda to adhere to the COVID-19 SOPs including:-
- Washing hands with soap and water frequently,
- Wearing face masks,
- Social distancing,
- Avoiding mass gatherings,
- Avoiding touching mouth, nose, and eyes
- Avoiding closed spaces
- Avoiding individuals with signs and symptoms of COVID-19 or ordinary cold.
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