COVID-19: Uganda shuts down schools, worship centres to tame new wave

To combat a new wave of Covid-19, the Ugandan government closed schools and worship centers on Sunday and suspended public gatherings for six weeks. 

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni says the measures are intended to protect the country from a new wave of Covid-19, which includes all new variants from South Africa, India, and the United Kingdom. 

On Saturday, Uganda reported 1,259 new cases out of 7,289 samples examined, bringing the overall number of infections in the country to 52,935. There have been 383 deaths in total, with 634 patients now being treated in hospitals around the country.

Schools that had reopened for the second term on Monday will again be shuttered, as will worship centers such as churches and mosques. He also put a moratorium on public gatherings, including political gatherings, with the exception of cabinet sessions and emergency government committees, such as those of parliament. 

The Ugandan president, whose country had lifted many travel and movement restrictions in February, admitted that poor adherence to public health guidelines, forged travel certificates, and what he called concealment of health status in some schools had all conspired to increase the number of infections.

He claimed 948 cases of Covid-19 had been discovered in 43 schools in 22 regions across the country since March. The capital, Kampala, as well as Guku, Masaka, and Oyam, accounted for six out of ten new infections at schools and colleges.

“I would like to remind you all that COVID-19 control and prevention is a responsibility of everyone. I therefore urge all Ugandans to adhere to SOPs; wash hands with soap and water frequently, wear face masks, social distancing, avoid mass gatherings, avoid touching mouth, nose and eyes.”

Uganda has been reporting new varieties among visitors returning to the country since March. They included the more aggressive Indian variant (B.1.617), South African variant (B.1.351), and UK variant (B.1.1.7), he stated. 

Here are some of the new measures announced on Sunday which include curfew runs from 9pm to 5.30am, schools and colleges closed for 42 days, public gatherings, including worship centres suspended for 42 days, and that companies and organisations must appoint someone to supervise compliance to health guidelines.

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