Uganda may reimpose ban on public transport amid surge in COVID-19 cases

FILE PHOTO: Passengers wait for buses at Kisenyi bus terminal in Kampala, capital of Uganda. (Xinhua/Hajarah Nalwadda)

The Ugandan government may reimpose the ban on public transport amid reports of a section of motorists flouting COVID-19 regulations, an official warned on Monday.

The Minister of Works and Transport Edward Wamala issued the warning while pointing an accusatory finger at public taxi operators and other motorists.

Some of the regulations being violated are the wearing of a mask when in public transportation, social distancing and hand sanitizing.

“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,” Wamala tweeted.

In March, President Yoweri Museveni suspended all public transport as part of efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus. In May, Museveni announced that public transporters will also be allowed to resume operations but at half their capacity.

The threat came as the Ministry of Health reported 60 new COVID-19 cases on Monday pushing its nationwide total to 1,560.

Uganda has consistently reported low numbers of daily COVID-19 positive cases, however, in recent days; it has begun reporting increasing numbers of cases, particularly in the capital, Kampala.

Kampala, again, led in the number of cases reported from alerts (28) on Monday, accounting for just over 50 percent of them (14).

The ministry has launched a rapid assessment survey to determine the extent of the spread of the virus among communities in Kampala, map out the affected areas and implement targeted interventions to prevent further spread of the virus.

Of the 60 cases, 14 are returnees and four are Ugandan truck drivers. Of the 14 returnees, nine were from Saudi Arabia; two were from Kenya while the remaining three were from Ethiopia, Germany and Oman. Meanwhile, the four truck drivers came from the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

The ministry also announced the death of two people from the disease pushing the death toll to 15.

“The two fatalities are both Ugandan males aged 63 and 33 years old. They were admitted at Rubaga Hospital with signs and symptoms consistent with COVID-19.”

Additionally, the number of recoveries rose to 1,165 after 23 people recovered from the deadly disease.