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Uganda relaxes coronavirus lockdown measures

By Joseph Kizza

Added 4th May 2020 06:17 PM

While some businesses, including wholesalers, hardware shops and restaurants have been allowed to reopen, the other measures remain in force for 14 days after the current lockdown extension ends on Tuesday.

Uganda relaxes coronavirus lockdown measures

While some businesses, including wholesalers, hardware shops and restaurants have been allowed to reopen, the other measures remain in force for 14 days after the current lockdown extension ends on Tuesday.

PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS ON COVID-19

Live reporting by Joseph Kizza

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 On Twitter: @joekizza

(Scroll down the page for earlier updates)

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10:00pm  |   And it's a wrap!

Right then, there you go.

Clearly, it is going to be a gradual lifting of Uganda's lockdown. For now, schools remain closed. Public and private transport (unless for essential services), religious and social gatherings as well as sports remain suspended.

 

As a reminder, what will reopen are the following businesses and services:

Agriculture (to continue), wholesalers, hardware shops, repair workshops and garages, metal and wood workshops, insurance providers, lawyers, restaurants (for only takeaway) and warehouses.

The reopening of these has been linked to other related activities.

For now, lights out. Take care, stay safe.


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9:56pm  |   Museveni warns banks and landlords

In his conclusion, the President once again warns banks and landlords against piling pressure on their clients and customers (loans), and tenants (rent), respectively.

Today, he will not read out the latest donations to the COVID-19 national taskforce, and says he will do so mid-next week.

Museveni's parting shot is that the God that has protected us will continue to protect us - as long as we do out part of adhering to the measures in place.

 

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9:54pm  |   'Avoid domestic violence'

 

President Museveni rallies families to "use dialogue instead of fighting".

"Avoid domestic violence. You don't have to agree, but you don't have to fight. Avoid domestic violence," warns Museveni, saying that he is being told that such family discord is happening "because some families are not used to staying with each other" for long periods.

"I want to remind you that families are the purpose of life."

Meanwhile, he says that Government will study the idea of allowing Ugandans who wish to move out of Kampala to access food.


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9:47pm  |   All other measures to remain in force for another 14 days

 

Ugandans moving up and about will have to wear face masks, says the President.

With the easing of the mentioned measures in this first phase of lockdown lifting, the President's emphasis is that Ugandans should maintain the other measures of social distancing, regularly sanitizing surfaces, eating fruits and vegetables, and for people who are sneezing and coughing to self-isolate in their homes and contact medical authorities if their condition worsens.

For now, all other measures will remain in force for another 14 days, announces President Museveni, to allow experts further review the situation.


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9:33pm  |   Moving to and from work

So how will the workers of these reopened business/activities move to and from work. According the President, here is how:

1. Buses - either owned or hired by employer

2. Cycling - "This is the healthiest," says Museveni.

3. Walking to and from work.

"We shall not allow public or private transport - unless they are for essential services," adds the President.

"The safeguard here is that these workers are known, and they can be traced all the way to their homes. That's why this is a manageable risk.

"This means that the worker, once you are at home, you must stay at home," underlines the President.

 

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9:29pm  |   Here are the businesses that will reopen

The President has announced adjustment to the lockdown measures, with only a select number of activities allowed to either continue operating or resume operations - but under conditions.

Here they are:

- Agriculture will continue to function.

- Wholesalers will be allowed to open. But they must observe the social distancing rules. Warehouses should not apply air conditioning where there are

- Hardware shops

- Repair workshops and garages

- Metal and wood workshops

- Insurance providers

- Business and other activities have crooks - so we need lawyers. Therefore, the Uganda Law Society will be allowed a quota of 30 lawyers at any one point to provide legal services, says Museveni.

- Restaurants will be open but will be allowed to only provide takeaway services.

- Warehouses will also open.


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9:20pm  |   'I salute you again'

The President once again applauds the concerted efforts of Ugandans to control the spread of the coronavirus.

"I salute you again on account of what you have done. We have avoided images of coffins and coffins and coffins - like we have seen abroad."

 

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9:15pm  |   'We are now better prepared'

The President lays down justification for the nationwide lockdown, that saw the suspension of schools, religious gatherings, public transport, among several other measures.

"The lockdown was in order for us to understand the problem better and also to prepare better. The real issue is immunisation - getting a vaccine, which is being done," he says.

"What is available now is prevention and the treatment in the available hospitals.

The President says that the nation is now better prepared unlike the case 45 days ago. For example, local factories such as Nytil are either manufacturing or are in the process of manufacturing face masks and personal protective equipment.

Another is that the local manufacturers (38) are now making enough quantities of sanitizers while there are now 14 treatment centres at 14 regional hospitals spread across the country.

 

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9:10pm  |   'There is every reason to get rid of lorries'

The matter of the truck drivers has, according to President Museveni, been a good thing of sorts.

"It has exposed the irrationality of using lorries for transporting cargo. It is cheaper and safer to use railway and water transport where they are available," he says.

The advantages include no cargo theft, no spreading of diseases and no damaging of roads.

"So there is every reason to get rid of these lorries," Museveni adds.

But he is keen to add that for now, it would be suicidal to stop the cargo transporters transiting. As the railway is being worked on, he urges patience among fellow Ugandans.

 

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9:01pm  |   Interstate cargo transport only spot of bother

"So how do you avoid mass infection while not committing suicide?" the President asks, to which he swiftly responds.

"By dispersing all concentrations of masses of people but allowing farming, manufacturing, construction, transport of cargo and essential services to continue. We said these ones should continue," says the President.

"The majority of these have been moving well. We only got a problem with the interstate cargo transport."

Museveni says he has engaged his East African counterparts to have the matter streamlined.

He also plans to engage his South Sudanese (Salva Kiir) and DR Congolese (Félix Tshisekedi) counterparts.

 

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8:52pm  |   Uganda tests over 38,000 samples

Altogether, Uganda has so far tested samples from 38, 845 persons on a routine basis.

Out of these, only 89 have tested positive for coronavirus. As many as 55 people have recovered and been discharged.

"We have somehow tamed the virus, although we cannot say we have eliminated it," says Museveni, who congratulates Ugandans for being tenacious in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

He adds that the spirit of volunteerism has shamed the bad culture of opportunism and careerism.

 

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8:40pm  |   Museveni addressing nation

The President has begun his address. He starts off by pointing out that three questions must be asked - and answered - as regards a virus of such seriousness as COVID-19:

1. Is this disease vaccinatable?

2. Is it treatable?

3. Is it avoidable by behaviour?

"The answer to the three questions, in the case of COVID-19, is that it seems that eventually all the three are possible," he says.

"However, number one (vaccine) is still being worked on globally - even here in Uganda. Working on the vaccine will take some 18 months.

So is it treatable? Yes, adds Museveni. Although there is no specfic medicine, the body needs to be supported. The treatability, though, requires smaller numbers which the medical workers can concentrate on.

It is understood that Uganda's index case (announced on March 21) took 16 days to successfully get treated.


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8:22pm  |   Museveni addresses conference on COVID-19, economy

Earlier today, the President took part in a digital conference on the coronavirus pandemic and the economy, which he addressed and also closed.

The discussion was organised by the Private Sector Foundation Uganda and UN Women.


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8:18pm  |   Kicked out by landlord

It has been a difficult period, this. No doubt. But things have even gotten worse for a widow and mother of two in Mukono district, who is desperate after her landlord evicted her over rent arrears.


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8:11pm  |   'We are going to be stronger after this crisis'

Any time from now, the President will be addressing Ugandans.

Most of us are eager to know what he is set to tell us. While some of us have been able to work from home, others who have not been able to are itching to get back to work.

The Labour Day national celebrations last Friday were supposed to be held in Mbarara, but for obvious reasons, this was not possible.

So while officiating at the understandably low-key 'scientific' function at State House Entebbe, President Museveni touched the critical issue of laying off workers.

"Laying off workers during this crisis is not a good idea especially because things are going to improve. Instead, I would suggest that these workers are sent on leave and recalled when the situation normalizes. I am very optimistic we are going to be stronger after this crisis," he said.



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7:58pm  |   Lifting the lockdown - what to consider

A little of two weeks ago, World Health Organisation (WHO) country representative Dr. Yonas Tegegn listed six areas a nation must consider before lifting the lockdown:

 

1. Transmission should be controlled - if there, indeed, is transmission going on

2. The health system capacity is in place to detect, test, isolate and treat every case

3. Outbreak risks are minimised in special settings like health facilities, nursing homes and among vulnerable groups

4. Preventive measures are in place in work places, school and other places where it is essential for people to go

5. Importation risk can be managed e.g. testing of incoming cargo transporters, like what is happening now at border points

6. "Probably most importantly", communities are fully educated, engaged and empowered to adjust to this new norm.


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7:50pm  |   This evening's quote

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COVID19 is a battle, which we can only win if we join hands together as Ugandans. We should all be responsible and helpful to one another and collectively guard our country jealously. This is already happening.
The private sector has been quietly supporting the fight enormously.

Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng - Uganda's health minister



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7:46pm  |   Pimping his ride

Necessity is the mother of invention, goes the saying.

Well, this youthful man in Nansana took cycling to a whole new level when he added one useful element to his ride: an engine.

He left many onlookers amazed by his ingenuity - and while many of the increasing number of cyclists [due to the suspension of public and private transport] will struggle to pedal up hilly terrain, this guy knows his makeshift engine will do all the work for him on elevated ground.

Nifty touch, dude!

 

 

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7:37pm  |   What we know so far

As of now, Uganda has registered a cumulative total number of 89 coronavirus-positive cases. A 39-year-old Kenyan male truck driver who entered Uganda through the Malaba border became the 89th person to test positive for the virus on Ugandan soil.

At the time of updating the nation several hours ago, the health ministry said they were trying to trace the driver. All the 201 samples tested from the community on Sunday returned negative.

 

Meanwhile, I have been doing a little tracing of my own here. If you are interested in knowing Uganda's cases tally since the first confirmed case on March 21, here you go:

March 21 - First (index) case, a 36-year-old male from Dubai
March 23 - Eight new cases, all Ugandan nationals from Dubai
March 24 - Five new cases. Cumulative total at the time = 14
March 25 - All 104 samples test negative
March 26 - Four new cases - male (31) from Dubai, male (29) from UK, female (48) from USA and male (55) from Afghanistan. Cumulative total = 18
March 27 - Five new cases from 227 samples tested
March 28 - Seven new cases from 225 samples tested. Cumulative total = 30
March 29 - Three new cases out of 206 samples tested
March 30 - All 82 samples test negative
March 31 - Eleven new cases confirmed. Cumulative total = 44
April 1 - All 63 samples test negative
April 2 - One out of 302 samples tests positive
April 3 - Three new cases. Cumulative total = 48
April 4 - All 398 samples test negative
April 5 - Four out of 300 samples test positive
April 6 - All 231 samples test negative. Cumulative total = 52
April 7 - All 150 samples test negative
April 8 - One new confirmed case. A resident of Wakiso who returned from China on March 21
April 9 - All 338 samples test negative
April 10 - All 439 samples test negative. Cumulative total = 53
April 11 - All 555 samples test negative
April 12 - One out of 169 samples test positive
April 13 - All 439 samples test negative
April 14 - One new case. A 38-year-old male, who is a cargo transporter, arrived from Kenya via Malaba.

 

April 15 - All 1,032 samples test negative, including 551 from truck drivers at border points
April 16 - All 1,162 samples test negative, including 839 from truck drivers at border points
April 17 - One new case, a Tanzanian truck driver.
April 18 - All 1,126 samples test negative, including 837 from truck drivers at border points
April 19 - One new case (Kenyan) among 1,14 truck drivers.
April 20 - One new case (Burundian)
April 21 - One new case (Kenyan truck driver)
April 22 - Two new cases (Tanzanian truck drivers)
April 23 - Eleven new cases (six Tanzanian and five Kenyan truck drivers). Cumulative total at this point = 74
April 24 - One new case (Ugandan) out of 1,116 truck drivers tested. All 417 from community test negative
April 25 - All 1,408 samples test negative
April 26 - Four new cases (all Tanzanian) from 1,578 samples tested among truck drivers
April 27 - All 2,557 samples test negative
April 28 - All 2,400 samples test negative, including 1,866 from truck drivers
April 29 - Two new cases (Ugandan & Burundian) among community and under quarantine
April 30 - Two new cases (Kenyan truck drivers) out of 2,071 samples. Cumulative total = 83
May 1 - Two new cases (Kenyan truck driver & Ugandan male from Masindi)
May 2 - Three new cases  (Kenyan, Burundian truck drivers & Ugandan male from Rakai). Cumulative total = 88
May 3 - One new case (Kenyan) out of 2,729 truck drivers.


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7:10pm  |   The eve of the extended lockdown end

President Museveni is urging all of us "to continue observing the guidelines from our health experts as the battle against the COVID-19 continues".

Continues.

I am sure some of you, the keen ones, have picked out that one very well. Well, yes, the battle continues until we have won the war against this invisible monster of a virus that has taken the world by storm.



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7:06pm  |   It's curfew time

But as you wait for the 8pm presidential address, be sure to do so in the safety of your home.

The dusk-to-dawn curfew is under way, ladies and gentlemen. Do not get yourself on the wrong side of the law.

 

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6:56pm  |  Are you online?

Welcome to this evening's live text coverage of President Yoweri Museveni's address, which is scheduled to begin at 8pm lock time.

Uganda has been a little over a month under lockdown. As we attempt to force our thoughts back into some semblance of normal life, let's wait and see what the President has to say tonight.

Of course if you are reading this, then you are online. Waiting  . . .

 

Everyone is on high alert . . .

 

Eager to see/hear what the President will say . . .



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6:56pm  |  A highly anticipated presidential address

Are Ugandans eager to return to normal life? Oh yes, they are - definitely! But is the country [realistically] ready to get back to business as it was before the coronavirus crisis came knocking on our door?

Well, that's a question President Yoweri Museveni will answer for us later this evening when he addresses the nation on the way forward.

 

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6:45pm  |  Hello everyone

Good evening, good people. It has been a very hot Monday here in Uganda's capital Kampala.


Meanwhile, it is 6:45pm in neighbouring Kenya . . .

 

 5:45pm in France . . .

 

6:45pm in Iraq . . .

 

 and 12:45am [Tuesday] in Japan . . .

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