Covid: Museveni changes terms for school opening

Students register and have their temperature readings taken at Luzira Secondary School in October 2020. President Museveni yesterday said schools and the country will be reopened only after seven million Ugandans are inoculated, 2.2 million. Photo/File

What you need to know:

  • Government had set next month as the opening time for universities and tertiary institutions while other educational institutions were scheduled to resume in January 2022.

President Museveni yesterday said schools and the country will be reopened only after seven million Ugandans are inoculated, 2.2 million higher than the original target.
Up until yesterday when the President made the proclamations, government said the country and educational institutional would reopen once 4.8 million priority populations received the jab.

Among the vulnerable groups, named so due to their exposure to the public, include teachers, non-teaching staff, health workers, security personnel, citizens aged 50 and above as well as youngsters with comorbidities.
According to Ministry of Health statistics, only 2.5 million Ugandans have received the shots, majority single-jabbed, since the government rolled out the nationwide vaccination in March.
This leaves 3.3 million doses lying idle in storage at the National Medical Stores in Entebbe, an irony that officials blamed on limited vaccination outlets across the country.

While giving a Covid situation update on Wednesday, Health minister Jane Ruth Aceng revealed that out of the 5.7 million doses of vaccines that government has received through donations and direct procurement, 2.4 million doses have been utilised countrywide.
The difficulty in getting vaccines to the vulnerable groups mirrors a bigger nationwide problem, one of the those in the know and at most risk ignoring jabs despite government’s persuasion.

Thus, President Museveni’s decision yesterday to increase the threshold jabbed population from 4.8 million to 7 million would mean many more months of waiting to reopen schools and the country, considering that only 2.4 million Ugandans have over the past six months been inoculated against a more ambitious target to vaccinate 21.9 million citizens overall.
The President yesterday did not specify when schools will reopen, in the wake of his pronouncement, but government had set next month as the opening time for universities and tertiary institutions while other educational institutions were scheduled to resume classes next January.

It is unlikely the government will achieve this target following the revision of the population threshold identified for inoculation.
Mr Museveni lashed at those pushing for the reopening of schools, saying it would be suicidal to do so because most schools operate either day section or both board-and-day programme, meaning commuting learners could contract the pandemic and infect elderly parents at home.
He noted that reopening of schools cannot be pegged on vaccination of 550,000 teachers alone because these institutions have non-teaching staff and learners above 18 years whom he said they too must be jabbed.

“If we follow recommendations of those who say that we reopen schools, people will die. We need to wait until December because by that time we shall have vaccinated seven million people and the crucial group are the people above the age of 50 and these account for 4.8 million people of the seven million. Once we achieve this, we shall open with confidence that what we are doing is right,’’ Mr Museveni said.
However, he did not specify the month when schools will reopen.

He disagreed with those who claim that the continued closure of the economy has killed businesses and left majority of people jobless, arguing that these can’t be compared to death since life is irreplaceable.
‘’Therefore, I want to be clear and clarify that we know what we are doing and mind about our people.  That’s our position on Covid-19 which was based on scientific analysis,” he said.

Statistics posted by the Ministry of Health on Tuesday showed that Uganda has lost at least 3,179 of … who contracted Covid while 96,337 patient have recovered and the pandemic’s positivity rate, which is the number of positive cases out of total tests, is down from double digits during the peak of the second wave in June to  1.7 percent today. 
The President also attributed the drop in the Covid-19 positivity rate to the strictness following the second lockdown that he imposed on June 18.

‘’Although I get a lot of confusing commentators, our method has worked. If people had listened, we would have lost only few people.  I was watching Brazil two days ago [Tuesday] and Brazil had lost at least 600,000 people in just 12 months and this is why we must be strict and vaccinate the people,” he said. 
The President made the revelation during the closure of induction for the new Cabinet ministers at Kololo Independence Grounds yesterday.
The two-day event which started on Wednesday was held under the theme, ‘’Securing the country towards socio-economic transformation”.

The objective of the induction was, among others, to orient the 83 ministers on their respective roles, branding and etiquette in government, budget processes and accountability, and structures of government.
During the same event, President Museveni warned the ministers against taking bribes from investors. He said that some investors are now scared of investing in Uganda because Cabinet members solicit bribes from them.
Mr Museveni, the appointing authority, said he had names of some of the bribe-seeking ministers, but he is keeping them under wraps for now because the evidence against them is inconclusive.

“This culture must stop because it’s like taxation on businesses. I have reports about you asking for bribes from companies. This must stop because it is killing our country. You must never accept a bribe, gifts, favours or money from anyone. If you want money, then go and borrow from banks and if anyone attempts to give you a bribe, report them to the IGG (Inspectorate of Government),” he said.

He told the ministers that when he captured power in 1986, people from his Ankole backyard gave him 2,000 heads of cattle, thanking him for liberating the country, but he donated the livestock to government ranches.
For the country to achieve industrialisation, the President said that the prices of electricity should be reduced so as to attract more investors.
He noted that when he recently attended the trade expo in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, many investors expressed interest in coming to Uganda, but noted that high power tariffs could scare them away.