Uganda: Museveni Extends COVID-19 Lockdown By 21 Days

Coronavirus COVID-19 novel

President Museveni has this afternoon extended the lockdown of the country for another 21 days until May 5.

Addressing the country from State House Nakasero, Museveni said the country still has a threat of the coronavirus disease COVID-19, especially before the ministry of Health tracks down all the 18,000 people who returned to Uganda before March 21, when Uganda recorded her first confirmed case.

Museveni said that all the 34 measures that he had already announced to deal with the virus will also stay for an extra 21 days. These include a ban on public and private, closure of schools and other public gatherings like churches, mosques, and political rallies, an all-night curfew starting 7 pm to 6.30 am, and the closure of shopping malls, hardware shops, businesses selling non-food items, saloons, lodges and garages.

According to the president, the mass infections witnessed in Europe, Asia and USA can never be witnessed in Africa because the lifestyles and weather conditions are different.

He said the infections in Africa are just down to the carelessness of the infected and the non-infected. For the infected, he said they shouldn't go into the public and when they are coughing or sneezing should avoid disposing their microscopic droplets onto surfaces. But even if they did, he said the non-infected should avoid touching such surfaces and then touching their face.

The president said that having only 54 cases out of the 5,664 tested, shows that the measures that he instituted actually worked. Uganda currently has 54 confirmed coronavirus cases, zero deaths and 8 recoveries. He added that there was also a need to keep the lockdown because there could have been other people who were infected and never went to the hospital.

"These 54 cases might not be the only one because it doesn't address the other people who fall sick but they don't show signs. Let's wait for another 21-days to see if someone got the virus and they are the asymptomatic type. When you want to hear whether there is any problem you keep quiet, if there is anything it will come out," Museveni said.

After the 21 days, Museveni added, "we shall say we have tried; for better or for worse we would have done our part. I would like to appeal to our Ugandans to observe these prohibitions," Museveni said.

Museveni said it is even possible that some people might have died of coronavirus in Uganda, but because of their underlying health conditions, there were not recorded as coronavirus victims.

RELIEF FOOD

Museveni reiterated that relief food will be only given to the vulnerable people in Kampala and Wakiso who were affected by the anti-coronavirus measures that closed their businesses. These he said, included taxi drivers, boda bodas, saloons, garages among others. He said monthly salary earners and those in villages are not entitled to the food because this is not a poverty relief campaign.

"If you were poor before the lockdown, you'll be poor after the lockdown. Eat what you were eating before...we shall deal with your poverty later," said Museveni.

Museveni further said he doesn't expect banks to take over borrowers' property since they also live in the same country and know that there is not much economic activities ongoing due to ongoing lockdown. He said the banks must adjust their repayment schedules by at least two months.

SHOOTING ORDER

Museveni said security officials attacked by citizens while enforcing curfew guidelines have a right to shoot in self-defence. It comes after two incidents in which security officials were stoned while enforcing curfew guidelines.

Museveni said security officers who don't have protective gear like shields and helmets can fire at those throwing stones.

"The other day we punished soldiers that caned people... This was because they violated the standing orders of policing. They can only use violence in self-defence nobody has a right to assault a member of the security forces. Anybody in the security forces has the right to use reasonable force to subdue you and arrest you," Museveni said.

"In rural areas be very careful, it's not like in Kampala; you are not going to throw stones at them and then you injure them and they let you go," Museveni said.

GREED FOR MONEY

Museveni said coronavirus has confirmed to him how Ugandans love and are greedy for money at the risk of their lives. He said when the government banned public transport, private car owners decided to make quick money by taking passengers.

He said the owners saw an opportunity to make quick money by charging Shs 50,000 per passenger from Kampala to Jinja, money even public transporters couldn't make. Police yesterday banned riding bicycles beyond 2 pm but Museveni the issue will be studied since the bicycles are good for one's health.

The president added that the rationale of stopping motorcycles from moving past 2 pm was because they were being used for criminality.

"Study it with Katumba Wamala [Works and Transport minister], and advise, otherwise, I don't have a problem with it," Museveni said.

The president also ordered Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda together with the minister of Foreign Affairs Sam Kutesa to study whether Ugandans locked outside the country can be evacuated but he said it safer for them to stay where they are and government might have to send some financial help to them.

He vowed to deal harshly with any security officer who corruptly allows anyone to cross into Uganda despite the closure of the borders.

"You are not going to be charged with corruption or negligence of duty because you know the sequences of allowing people into the country. We are going to charge you with murder or attempted murder," Museveni said.

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