PRESIDENTIAL UPDATE ON CORONAVIRUS
Live reporting by Joseph Kizza
(Scroll down the page for earlier updates)
9:15pm | Good night!
And that is it for this evening's presidential address. He signs out after making clarification on a series on public queries over the latest measures that Uganda has put in place to contain the spread of coronavirus.
I bet everything is clear now, yes?
Anyways, it is a little after 9pm local time and that means one thing. Curfew time. So, stay in the safety of indoors and heed official messages on the ways to curb COVID19.
9:12pm | Court hearings are suspended
Meanwhile, court hearings are suspended for now, as this would involve a lot of movement, including the summoning of witnesses, says the President.
Only the recording of new cases is allowed to continue, he adds.
9:02pm | Uganda registers 11 new coronovirus cases, over 800, 000 infected globally
President Museveni tells the nation that after 176 samples were tested for coronavirus on Tuesday, 11 of them returned positive, "and all these were children (...), who were already in quarantine".
The development means that the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Uganda has risen to 44, having been at 33 up until Tuesday. Thankfully, all of them are alive.
Despite the new confirmed cases, President Museveni remains confident that Uganda is doing a good job at limiting the further spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, I feel it is my duty to let you know that more than 40,000 people have been killed in the coronavirus pandemic as the disease barrels across the globe, according a report by AFP.
In a matter of months, the virus has infected more than 800,000 people in a crisis redrawing political powers, hammering the global economy and transforming the daily existence of some 3.6 billion people who have been asked to stay home under lockdowns, the news agency adds.
It is understood that deaths shot up again across Europe Tuesday as Spain, France and Britain reported their deadliest days.
This should give you an idea of how ubiquitous this deadly virus has become.
8:55pm | On RDCs, bank and media
Museveni says the Minister for the Presidency will instruct RDCs to install dedicated people to stay on duty at all time (and man the call centres) - without them (the RDCs) having to be there in the office physically.
He says the LC5 chairman who slapped a female RDC "should be arrested for beating a Ugandan".
The LC5 chairman in question is James Ategeka Mugarama of Bunyangabu district, who was caught on camera smacking the district resident district commissioner, Jane Asiimwe. The latter had reportedly tried to stop the LC5 chairman from travelling in the vehicle hours after the new restrictions on movement were announced.
Museveni says whoever commits such an act is an "idiot!".
Anyways, so what about banks?
The people who work in banks will get stickers for their vehicles from the works and transport ministry. But he tells bank customers to either walk to their nearest bank branch or to use the mobile option to transact.
"Yes, media should continue to operate. Their vehicles will also get stickers - to be handled by the works and transport ministry," adds the President, who says the glitches encountered on the day after the announcement of the new measures emerged because "we were just starting".
He stresses that the media a very important component of service delivery.
8:45pm | On scientific weddings versus ban on gatherings of over five people
The President reiterates his earlier measure that the big "hexagonal Ugandan-style" weddings can easily spread the virus as they attract a large gatehring of people. Those ones remain banned.
But, just like he pointed out in his first set of measures a couple of days ago, if you must hold the wedding around this time, you can only do a scientific version of no more than 10 people present.
On Monday, the President banned gatherings of more than five people. That, then, got people confused. So what becomes of the scientific wedding, which is allowed to have as many as 10 people?
Museveni clarifies that in Monday's raft of new measures, the gatherings he meant were of idle youths, who "play ludo" and stuff like that. That said, you can carry on with your scientific wedding plans.
8:42pm | On exempted private cars
Who can go to work using private vehicles? That is another issued raised.
The vehicles exempted will have to bear stickers of exemption, says the President.
8:39pm | On mass testing
What about mass testing? Some sections of the public were wondering if this can be done here in Uganda in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
"It is very expensive but also hardly resolves anything - because you can be negative today and you test positive tomorrow," admits President Museveni, adding it is instead better to stick to observation by way of signs and symptoms - fever, cough, flu, etc.
He reveals that each coronavirus test costs $65 (about sh245,000), which would be "very expensive for a population of 40 million people".
8:35pm | On private vehicles impounded on Monday
Another concern is that some people had their vehicles impounded on the very day that the ban on movement of private vehicles came into force (Monday at 10pm).
The President apologises to those who were affected, but remains resolute that he had to "surprise" the people to avoid people from storming the villages and potentially putting the people in the countryside at risk of contracting the deadly virus.
"Sorry about that," says the President, before directing the Police to release all the vehicles that were impounded in the "ambush".
8:28pm | On relief food distribution
The critical issue of distribution of food by government to Ugandans who live hand-to-mouth was also brought to the President's attention.
He says the Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, will clarify on how specifically that will be done. On his part, Museveni says that food will be given to only those people identified in Kampala and in upcountry areas - and this (delivery) could go on for a month.
"But it will be done by the national taskforce because they will do it in a health-conscious way," underlines the President, who again warns "shameless" people who are giving food to locals.
He says doing this puts these very people at risk of contracting coronavirus, adding that whoever wants to help should do it "institutionally" through the national taskforce or else they will end up in "corona-free cell in Luzira" if found dishing out food to people. "And there will be no bail for these people," adds Museveni. On Monday, he warned that such individuals, if arrested, face charges of attempted murder, as they are endangering the lives of the people they would be giving food to.
So, whoever wants to help in such a way, go through the right channel (national taskforce).
"Your name will be registered and you will be identified as a good person," says Museveni.
8:24pm | On protective gear
Another issue that was raised to the President is on protective gear by workers in critical sectors, such as health.
He says he got an update from the health ministry's permanent secretary Dr. Diana Atwine. Museveni says he wants the information from the PS to be "clearly in writing", as he wants to know the source and quantity of the gear to be brought in.
We learn that options are being explored to have protective gear imported and the President assures Ugandans not to worry, that "we are going to import gear in big numbers".
The issue of sanitizers will also be solved internally, he adds.
8:20pm | President on curfew, diplomatic vehicles
The President also clarifies on the ongoing curfew, which took effect this evening. For the next 14 days, the restriction on movement starts at 7pm and lasts until 6:30am the following morning.
And on diplomatic vehicles, Museveni says that these are OK to move, as they are clearly marked. But their destinations should be supermarkets and hospitals and then back to their residences.
8:13pm | President clarifies on supermarkets
The President has begun addressing the nation.
He says that after his address Monday evening, his social media team informed him that the public wanted clarity on some of the latest measures against the spread of coronavirus.
First, the issue is that supermarkets are left to operate yet private vehicle use is banned. How can buyers carry their stuff after purchasing?
Walk to the nearest food store, he responds.
You can also use a boda boda for food delivery, adds the President, insisting that that movement of private vehicles must remain restricted.
7:57pm | Coronavirus: What Uganda is doing to curb its spread
The new measures also presented in another way . . .
7:53pm | Coronavirus: The latest measures in brief
Right before announcing the additional guidelines, the President said it is better for Uganda "not to take any risk by being complacent" and riding on assumptions. And for that matter, he and his team felt the need to take more precaution.
1. People to people movement banned for two weeks. This includes the use of private vehicles, boda bodas and rickshaws (tuk tuks).
2. Shopping malls, arcades and hardware shops ordered shut for 14 days, with effect from Wednesday, April 1.
3. All non-food shops (stores) also closed, with only food stores, stores selling agricultural products, veterinary products, detergents and pharmaceuticals allowed to continue operating but with strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) observed.
4. Supermarkets also remain open, also with clear SOPs.
5. Establishe food markets to continue operating - but on condition that a four square-metre distance between buyer and seller is maintained and that the sellers must arrange to stay nearby for the 14 days.
6. Lodges, saloons and garages to remain locked for 14 days.
7. Factories, like farms, can continue operating because, according to Museveni, "that is the life-blood of the country".
8. Construction sites to continue with work - but only if they can encamp their workers for the next two weeks.
9. Essential services to continue operating.. These include medical, agriculture and veterinary, telecommunication, door-to-door delivery, financial institutions, all media, private security companies, cleaning services, garbage collection, fire brigade, fuel stations, water departments, URA, UNRA and some KCCA staff.
10. Cargo transport by train, plane, lorry, pick-up, tuk-tuks, boda boda and bicycle, within Uganda and between Uganda and the outside, must continue - but only with minimum numbers.
11. Any crowd featuring more than five people has been banned.
12. A curfew that starts at 7pm local time beging today. Cargo planes, lorries, pick-ups and trains are exempted from this restricted movement.
13. Permission can be sought from the RDC to use private transport in cases of unavoidable health emergencies involving, for example, mothers in child birth and sick people.
14. Government is to work with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to set up a fund in the Uganda Development Bank to accelerate industrialization through import-substitution and export promotion.
15. Government is to engage with banks and electricity and water companies about loans and bills.
16. Government workers should also stay at home for the 14 days, except for the army, Police, health workers, electricity, water and telephone workers.
One very important point that the President made is that his Government will distribute food to people who live hand-to-mouth. This, he said, will be done after "properly identifying these people". It is understood foodstuffs such as maize flour, beans, powder milk, sugar and salt will be distributed.
I am sure many are people are desperately waiting for this package.
7:45pm | Stay safe, good people
On Monday evening, President Yoweri Museveni appeared on Ugandan TV stations to yet again address the nation on the novel coronavirus, which has frozen most parts of the planet with its ghoulish presence. Before announcing a raft of new measures to curb the spread of the ubiquitous virus, the President was keen to remind Ugandans of the ways the virus can be transmitted.
One of the modes of transmission is by inhalation - an infected person coughs or sneezes near you and you will likely get infected yourself when you inhale the emitted vapour.
Another way the virus is spread is when an infected individual "pollutes" surfaces, which if you also touch and then touch in your open soft parts (eyes, nose or mouth), you also get infected.
It is as straightforward as that.
Coronavirus, which has not spared 33 people in Uganda (who thankfully are alive and recovering), is also known to dispatch people who already have other medical conditions such as blood pressure, AIDS, sickle cells, cancer and diabetes. The elderly are also said to be at a high risk if infected. But from the evidence of what has been happening in especially the most affected nations, the young people are not immune. This virus does not discriminate.
Anyways, President Museveni updated Uganda's long anti-coronavirus checklist with a set of new measures. Let me list them for you in a bit . . .
7:40pm | Good evening
Hello and welcome once again to another evening of live text coverage of President Yoweri Museveni's address to the nation. Tonight, he is expected to make some clarifications on the latest measures against the novel coronavirus in Uganda.
And with a countrywide curfew already in full force, I am sure this finds you safe in your home. Or perhaps at your workplace, where you are set to burn the midnight oil.
Let's wait and see what His Execellency has to say.