Telecoms join fight against coronavirus

Friday March 20 2020

Wash your hands frequently with soap and any

Wash your hands frequently with soap and any other disinfectants 

By Ahita Chopra

Telecommunications companies have started campaigns that seek to sensitise and minimise the spread of coronavirus in Uganda.
Speaking yesterday Mr Wim Vanhelleputte, the MTN chief executive officer, said they had put together campaigns that will not only sensitise but allow Ugandans to work away from concentrated places.

This comes at a time when Uganda is on high alert as government puts in place a number of measures to keep coronavirus out of Uganda.
Already, coronavirus cases have been confirmed in almost all countries within East Africa.
Mr Vanhelleputte yesterday said it was important that companies innovate in a time when the country is on high alert.

In a press conference that was conducted online, Mr Vanhelleputte said MTN would relay messages that seek to prevent spread of coronavirus.
“Starting today [Thursday] via our [short text messages] channels, we shall relay messages from the Ministry of Health on how to prevent the spread of coronavirus and symptoms to look out for,” he said.
By yesterday, Uganda had not reported any case of coronavirus. However, coronavirus cases were yesterday reported at 217,510 globally.
Other telecoms, including Airtel had by yesterday also started relaying messages related to coronavirus.

“Wash your hands frequently with soap and any other disinfectants. Avoid shaking hands and any other body-to-body contact. Cover your mouth and nose when you are coughing or sneezing. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms,” a message from Airtel reads in part.
MTN also indicated it had scrapped charges on mobile money transactions for the amounts of Shs20,000 and above as well introducing data packages that will allow Ugandans to work from home.
“We want to avoid handling of shilling notes that could aid the spread of coronavirus,” Mr Vanhelleputte said.

Money set aside
According to Mr Vanhelleputte, MTN had set aside Shs500m, which would be invested in efforts against the spread of coronavirus that has already claimed the lives of 9,020 people across 157 countries.