Police have detained two MPs for allegedly mobilizing protestors in Gulu town in northern Uganda to demand for the closure of Elegu border town.
Kilak county MP, Mr Gilbert Olanya and his Aruu County counterpart, Mr Samuel Odonga Otto were arrested Monday from Pece division near Cerellenu, a suburb of Gulu town where they had mobilized youth and boda-boda operators to stage a demonstration over what they called increasing cases of Covid-19 in the country mostly brought about the truckers who arrive in the country through Elegu border point.
The lawmakers were arrested by a team of officers commanded by Gulu District police commander Mr Emmanuel Mafundo.
Seven frontline health workers on Sunday tested positive for the novel Coronavirus disease pushing Uganda’s tally of confirmed cases to 417.
The infected workers include three nurses, two doctors and two senior-level staff, according to a statement released by the Ministry of Health on Sunday evening.
Two of the seven workers are from Lira Regional Referral Hospital. The duo, a lead nurse and medical officer have been admitted at Entebbe Regional Referral Hospital while the rest are at Mulago Specialised Hospital.
Entebbe Hospital Director Dr Moses Muwanga says that the Lira Hospital staff are stable and under close monitoring. The Hospital currently has 45 patients, most of whom are long-distance truck drivers.
The ministry said that experts in infection, prevention and control, case management and psycho social management are investigating the circumstances under which the frontline wokers could have contracted the virus.
“A team of experts specialized in prevention and Control (IPC), case management and psychosocial are currently in the various places where health was workers tested positive to evaluate the response and investigate what could have led to the unfortunate infection of health workers,” the statement reads.
However, Dr Stephen Ayella, the deputy president of Uganda Medical Association (UMA) hinted on inexperience and staffing shortfalls as possible leads at for the infections at Lira Hospital.
“The team of 14 health workers has never handled an infectious disease like Ebola or Covid-19 and they were also overwhelmed after receiving 21 patients in five days,” Dr Ayella said.
Total number of recoveries currently stands at 72. There have been no fatalities registered yet.
Globally, over 22, 000 health workers have been infected with COVID-19 in 52 countries by the end of last month.
Busia Municipality MP, Mr Godfrey Macho has been arrested on allegations of defying directives on the prevention of coronavirus pandemic and inciting violence.
Mr Godfrey Macho was allegedly found on Saturday mobilising a section of traders to go and open their shops and stalls in Busia market contrary to the directives issued by the district taskforce on coronavirus and president Museveni.
The Bukedi Regional Police Commander (RPC) Mr Julius Caesar Tusingwire said the lawmaker is currently detained at Tororo Central Police station.
“We arrested him for organising a section of traders to forcefully open shops and stalls in the market, something which jeopardises the fight against coronavirus in the district,” he said.
The market was closed in March this year by the Busia District response task force on Coronavirus after it was found that Kenyan traders were sneaking in the market through the un-gazzetted routes to sell their goods.
This, according to the district health officials, was putting the lives of Ugandan traders and buyers at risk of contracting the virus.
Mr Tusingwire explained the legislator was transferred to Tororo Central Police Station after getting intelligence information that some traders were mobilising to storm Busia Central in protest over his arrest.
Some of the vendors told Daily Monitor that they resolved to open the market by force because their requests to the district leaders to open it has not been respected for long now since it was closed.
“The market should be re-opened to allow us to go back because some of the goods such as maize flour, rice, beans are rotting away,” Mr Peter Okello, one of the vendors, said.
The MPs were arrested alongside Pece division LC3 chairman Mr Kelly Komakech and four other activists.
Mr Patrick Jimmy Okema, the police spokesman for Aswa river region told Daily Monitor that the politicians were arrested because they did not seek permission from the police.
“Two of the legislators and several others are in our custody at Gulu central police station. Investigations are ongoing while we trace other protestors who are on the run because their activities were illegal,” Mr Okema said.
The UPDF 4th division army spokesman, Maj Caesar Olweny said all means, including force, will be used against the protestors to prevent them from attracting crowds.
“We shall use every means we have including force not to give way for such meaningless demonstrations that will end up bringing people to mix and mess up in the streets. By that, they break the social distance protocol during which we potentially risk getting more infections,” Maj. Olweny said.
One of the protestors Mr Tony Oboma told Daily Monitor that “government is reluctant to close Elegu border so that they keep us in lockdown yet people are starving.”
“Our interest is that the government shuts down Elegu border and lock down the entire town for two weeks in order to control infections currently stemming from there and spreading across Acholi region,” he stated.
Following the emergence of several cases of truck drivers testing positive at the Elegu border post between Uganda and South Sudan, there could be cases of the virus in the community since the truck drivers have interacted freely with the community, Mr Gilbert Olanya said.
“Even our health facilities like Gulu Regional Referral hospital are overwhelmed because the isolation capacity can accommodate only 12 cases,” he said.
Gulu Regional Referral Hospital now has 67 COVID-19 positive cases that were intercepted from other border points. Of the 36 positive cases reported on Thursday, 20 were from Elegu border post.
The Ministry of Health said Sunday that Seven frontline health workers on had tested positive for the virus pushing Uganda’s tally of confirmed cases to 417.
On Saturday, Busia Municipality MP, Mr Godfrey Macho was arrested on allegations of defying directives on the prevention of coronavirus pandemic and inciting violence.
Mr Godfrey Macho was allegedly found mobilising a section of traders to go and open their shops and stalls in Busia market contrary to the directives issued by the district taskforce on coronavirus and president Museveni.