Roundup: Uganda gov't institutes new stringent measures against COVID-19

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KAMPALA, March 18 (Xinhua) -- Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Wednesday announced a string of new measures to fight the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the east African country once it breaks out.

Museveni in a televised national addressed about COVID-19 said schools and other institutions of learning must close for one month starting March 20.

He said there are over 15 million students in the country, noting that this provides a fertile ground for the disease to spread in case it breaks out.

Museveni also said that religious gatherings have been suspended for one month with immediately. He said large gatherings are a danger for the disease to spread.

"Religious leaders can use television and radio stations to continue preaching," Museveni said.

Government, according to Museveni has also suspended all public rallies for political or cultural purposes for the next 32 days.

Museveni said work places must continue to be opened and must follow the guidelines issued by the ministry of health on preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Government has also instituted a travel ban to and from Category A countries. Countries in this category are those that have been most affected by the disease.

Museveni said Ugandans are prohibited from going to or through those countries.

"With immediate effect, ban all out-bound movement by Ugandans to or through these countries, again, for 32 days. Foreigners going to those countries are free to do so provided they do not intend to come back within the prohibited time," he said.

He said Ugandans coming back from abroad, even from the category one countries will be put in a mandatory quarantine in a designated place at their own cost.

"If they want to avoid that inconvenience or cost, they can sit out the storm in the country of their temporary abode," Museveni said.

Government also banned mass weddings, noting that they should be limited to 10 people if they cannot be suspended for 32 days.

Government also said funerals should be attended by a few close relatives. He noted that in case the deceased has died of COVID-19, government will take charge of the burial arrangement to avoid the spread of the disease arising out of the cultural practices.

Museveni said cattle and other agricultural produce markets are suspended and should only be done in homesteads instead of mass gatherings.

Regarding public transport, Museveni said it should continue, provided the companies involved followed the standard operating procedures like hand washing and having temperature monitors.

He, however noted that once the disease breaks out, public transport in the affected area would be suspended and the area locked down.

He urged the public to continue maintaining high levels of hygiene, noting that this is one of the major ways of preventing the spread of the disease.

The country, according to the ministry of health, has already enhanced screening at all its major border entry points including Entebbe International Airport.

Two hospitals Entebbe and Naguru referral hospitals have been designated treatment centers. Isolation centers are being set up in other referral hospitals across the country, according to ministry of health.

Uganda has not yet registered a case of COVID-19 but the ministry of health said it faces a high risk.

Uganda's neighbors, including Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, have registered COVID-19 cases. Enditem

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