What Museveni told Ugandans after country’s first confirmed virus case

Sunday March 22 2020

President Yoweri Museveni addressing the nation on preventive measures against corona virus, from State House Entebbe on Saturday. PPU PHOTO

President Museveni on Sunday said he was still assessing whether to ban public means of transport as part of his government’s efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus that has wreaked havoc across the world.

“Now, the only remaining thing is public transport. That's what I'm still struggling with in my head. If you don't have your private means of transport, don't use public transport. Stay at home. Where are you going? I'm thinking of having temperature monitors at disembarkation and embarkation points of these public means of transport. I don't want to ban them but I'm trying to discourage you (citizens) from using them,” Mr Museveni said while addressing the nation after Uganda’s first confirmed case.

“Before I came here, I saw a young man called Obuku who used to make a lot of noise speaking nonsense, but this time he spoke some sense, I heard him telling people to stay home, so coronavirus shouldn't be underestimated because it's making some people speak sense.”

According to the president, there was a possibility that the confirmed case, a 36-year-old male resident of Kibuli, Kampala, picked the virus on his way from Dubai where he had travelled for a business trip.

The confirmed case is said to have travelled to Dubai on March 17, 2020 and returned to Uganda on March 21, before he was identified and quarantined.

“They have told me about his people (confirmed case). They have checked them (family members) and it seems they have no serious sicknesses. There's a possibility that he (confirmed case) picked the virus from Dubai,” Mr Museveni said.


On shaking hands
The president discouraged shaking hands saying it could help prevent the spread of the pandemic that has confined over a billion people to their homes.
“No shaking of hands. I see you people knocking elbows; elbows for what! I have seen you and greeted you. Why do I need to knock your elbow? Those are idiotic things,” he said.

To the school children
“To the school children that were sent home, please stay home, do not loiter, the address we sent you to was home, not the trading centres, otherwise reckless movement poses a risk of contracting the virus. The other day I was telling you how we survived smallpox of 1881. It was by staying home. It killed some people but those who stayed home survived”

No opening of bars
“Night clubs and bars are not workplaces. They are ad-hoc and anybody comes in and that's where the danger is. Therefore, they should all be closed. Unlike offices where they know each and everyone who comes in and leaves”

War of the people

“Please wash your hands at all times. In offices, you could have someone go around with disinfectants cleaning tables, chairs and other surfaces. But at a personal level, wash your hands frequently and don't touch your delicate parts like nose, mouth and eyes... The way I see, this virus is easy to defeat if you follow the NRA way. This is a war of people. I'm here to lead the people's war, like I led the village people [in 1980s]. We defeated HIV/Aids with the ABC (Abstinence, Be faithful and use of Condoms) strategy.”

Ignorance due to superstitions

Finally I want to decampaign ignorance, we gave been trying to get some schools to quarantine these people but some of them believe in superstitions that it will leave for them bisirani (bad luck), I will talk to mama Janet and her head teachers who I thought were people from university but unfortunately governed by superstitions.

Not sexually transmitted

"It (COVID-19)is NOT sexually transmitted. If you avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, you can easily defeat this virus. Please wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol based hand rub regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces,” Dr Diana Atwine, PS, Ministry of Health.

Dr Atwine appealed to the hotels where people are being quarantined to be vigilant and make sure their workers are not exposed.
“Give the workers masks and protective gloves because they do not know who is well and who is not. Iron beddings," she said.
According to her, every person that comes into the country will undergo institutional quarantine.
"It doesn’t matter if they are coming from Category one or not,” she said.