The livelihood of about 10,000 residents of Ntoroko District who depend on fishing has been affected following the suspension of all activities on Lake Albert as one of the measures to stop the spread of coronavirus.
“As the district security committee, we have decided to close and suspend all activities on all landing sites in Ntoroko following the presidential directive because people may continue being on the lake and Congolese take advantage to cross to Uganda,” Mr Elijah Biryabalema, the Resident District Commissioner, said on Tuesday.
The suspended activities include fishing, markets on landing sites and transport.
Uganda has so far registered nine cases of coronavirus.
Mr Biryabalema said they had already deployed UPDF soldiers, police officers and volunteers to ensure that residents comply with the directives.
Mr Vincent Kiwanuka, the secretary of finance for Kanara Town Council, said residents, especially those living near the lake have been getting food from Mpefu, Kabukaga and Kitebere areas in Kibaale through water transport.
Mr Kiwanuka said the suspension will also affect their revenue. Fishing and water transport in the district has been the major source of revenue, fectching more than Shs180m.
Ms Christine Ntembe, a resident at Kanara landing site, said government should have used marine police officers to protect the lake instead of closing the landing sites.
“People who live at the lake have no gardens. We have been getting food from Kibaale District after being shipped on the lake shores, people will die of hunger if the lake is not opened,” Ms Ntembe said.
The President also suspended air transport and issued strict directives using water transport.
The fisheries sector is the second largest foreign exchange earner in the country, contributing 2.6 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 12 per cent to agricultural GDP.
Farmers abandon gardens
In Lamwo, the Resident District Commissioner, Mr Nok Kidega, has raised fears that there might be food shortage because farmers have abandoned their gardens for fear of contracting coronavirus.
Mr Kidega told Daily Monitor yesterday that they would engage sub-county leaders to sensitise residents about hand-washing and other measures but encourage them to continue farming since it is their only source of livelihood.
“It is all about sensitising the community on what should be done so that they stay safe. We have dispatched village health teams to kick start the door-to-door outreaches,’’ he said.
However, Mr Kidega expressed concern about several illegal border points that South Sudanese nationals were using to sneak into the country.
“Three people have been netted while trying to get through here,’’ he said. Mr Kidega requested for deployment of more police officers and Local Defence Unit personnel to monitor the border points.
In Kitgum District, residents have resorted to using alcohol as a disinfectant to prevent the spread of coronavirus, citing increase of prices of sanitisers.
Government has been urging the public to use water and soap or sanitisers.
Mr Morris Santo Oyoo, a resident, said prices of a small bottle of a hand sanitiser that initially used to cost between Shs5,000 and Shs10,000, now goes for between Shs20,000 and Shs50,000.
Dr Charles Abonga Lagoro, the medical director of Yot Kom Medical Centre, a local NGO, said alcohol can be used to kill harmful micro-organisms.
However, other medics refute its effectiveness since the alcoholic spirits on the local market have a low alcoholic concentration mostly ranging from between 40 per cent and below which might not reach the required 60 per cent which is required.
Two in isolation
In Adjumani District, two South Sudanese refugees have been put in isolation for presenting a high fever while being screened at Elegu border point in Amuru District on Tuesday.
“They were presented by OPM (Office of the Prime Minister) to be reunited with their family members. However, when they were screened, their temperatures were abnormal as one was having 39.5 and 39.6, we had to be concerned, they are under quarantine at the moment as we monitor them,” Ms Linda Auma, the Amuru Resident District Commissioner, told Daily Monitor.
“They also tested positive for malaria and tuberculosis but that can’t prevent us from isolating them for the next 14 days,” she added.
Mr James Leku, the Adjumani District chairperson, said their samples had been taken to Entebbe for further screening.
Hotel and restaurants owners in Kitgum have been tasked to use disposable plates and cups as one the preventive measures. Mr Emmanuel Banya, the town clerk, said while people were adhering to other measures such as hand-washing, the virus’ life span can last up to nine days on the surface of plastic cups and plates. “If some of these procedures and measures are properly followed, then it will not be easy for the virus to penetrate the district,’’ Mr Banya said yesterday.
An estimated 100,000 of the 336,000 people who have been diagnosed with the disease across the world have recovered and more than 15,000 people have died from Covid-19 across the world.
Reported by Alex Ashaba, Cissy Makumbi, Denis Opoka & Polycarp Kalokwera