Fresh lockdown looms as Covid-19 death toll rises to 15

Passengers flock without wearing facemasks in the New Taxi Park in Kampala on August 13. PHOTO/ KELVIN ATUHAIRE

The country could be thrown into a fresh lockdown following a rise in Covid-19 cases in the community.

On Monday, Uganda registered two new Covid-19 deaths bringing the total number of deaths to 15.

The two fatalities are both Uganda males aged 63 and 33 years old. The total number of cases stand at 1,560 with 1,411 recoveries.

The Ministry of Works and Transport on Monday warned it would shut down public transport again because of non-compliance with Covid-19 guidelines.

Works and Transport minister, Gen Katumba Wamala, said this is an alert to the industry .

“The transport industry falls under me, and so if I see threats against the industry, it is my responsibility to alert them, for us to stay in line. I wouldn’t want to see my industry is an alert..., I have done my duty, I have alerted you , it’s not me to order the lockdown, me I have alerted my industry to be aware,” Gen Wamala said yesterday during a telephone interview.

Earlier, he had tweeted: “Fellow Ugandans, it has come to my attention that some taxi operators and motorists are not obeying the Covid-19 guidelines in place. With the increasing cases of community transmission, we may be forced to halt public transport.”

In March, President Museveni suspended public transport for 14 days to curb the spread of coronavirus. The ban was lifted in June.

However as public transport system settled for the new normal, compliance with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) faded and most taxis and other passenger vehicles abandoned sanitising hands of passengers before boarding.

Motorcyclists are also seen carrying more than one passenger while some people have consistently refused to wear masks.

According to Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), majority of the people who have tested positive have either moved in taxis or used boda bodas which makes tracking very complicated because same taxis usually take three or five routes a day.

Mr Fred Enanga, the police spokesperson, said more stringent lockdown enforcement measures might be brought back to curb the spread of the covid-19 cases given the rising community infections.

“The measures in place of wearing masks, social distancing and proper hygiene are about safety. That is what matters more than politics…, after easing of the lockdown, we also eased some of the restrictions and you could see that some of the checkpoints and barriers were removed, there was some bit of excess time that was given, so we were less extreme in enforcement mechanism,” Mr Enanga said yesterday.

He added that: “And we may see ourselves reintroducing more stringent lockdown measures to help us curb the spread of this virus, with the new prospects that are emerging in Kampala here, in arcades, we have got cases in community ,” Mr Enanga said.

According to police, 231 motorcycles were impounded in Kampala Metropolitan north, 89 motorcycles in Kampala metropolitan east, 190 motor vehicles were impounded in Kampala metropolitan south for flouting curfew provision.
Mr Enanga has cautioned the cyclists to get side mirrors and reflectors to avoid accidents.

Meanwhile, Mr Deo Akiki, the deputy military spokesperson, said security is doing all assessment to stop use of porous borders for those, who want to come into the country to control importing the disease.
“The country continues to have safe borders, save for the people using influx areas. Sometime back we started operations to enforce Covid-19 guidelines. We carried out intensive deployment to aid our borders
“… we have not had serious challenges that have caused alarm but the serious challenge is having a lot of people creating more porous borders it has been a challenge and we continue to be somehow overstretched,” Mr Akiki said. He added: “We are not able to control the coming-in people with Covid-19 who cannot be traced because they are using porous borders… other measures are being taken as country and coordinating with neighbouring countries to have a joint security.”

Covid-19 prevention

-Clean your hands often. Use soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub.
-Maintain a safe distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
-Wear a mask when physical distancing is not possible.
-Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
-Cover your nose and mouth with your bent elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
-Stay home if you feel unwell.
-If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention.