Uganda announces new COVID-19 prevention measures amid resurgence in cases

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GULU, UGANDA - 2020/04/10: Soldiers patrol during curfew hours amid coronavirus crisis in Gulu. Uganda's coronavirus-related curfew was brought in on March 30 and means citizens are ordered to be at home between 7pm and 6.30am. (Photo by Sally Hayden/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
GULU, UGANDA : Soldiers patrol during curfew hours amid coronavirus crisis in Gulu,
Uganda. (Photo by Sally Hayden/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Uganda on Friday announced a series of new COVID-19 restrictions amid a resurgence in infections when global daily cases are also increasing fast mainly due to India’s calamitous second wave.

-New wave-

Ruth Aceng, Ugandan minister of health, told reporters here that the country has been experiencing a gradual increase in coronavirus cases over the last six weeks, signaling a second wave.

“We are beginning to witness a resurgence in the pandemic. It’s important for us to note that for viral infections, the second wave is usually more aggressive than the first wave,” said Aceng.

The country is currently facing five COVID-19 variants, including those first found in India, South Africa and Britain, she said, noting that the health ministry has developed a plan to combat the resurgence of the disease.

The new plan will identify gaps in efforts to fight the first wave of the virus and draw on the experience of other countries, Aceng said.

The ministry is continuing to study the evolving pandemic situation in different countries, she said, adding that countries will be categorized in accordance with the risk they confront.

As India is in “category one” because of the high infection rates in the country, Uganda has imposed travel restrictions on travelers and passenger flights from India, the minister said.

Travelers from the “category two” countries, including the United States, Britain, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, South Africa, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Tanzania, will be subject to a COVID-19 test at points of entry. Individuals from the countries who have received full vaccination and are asymptomatic will be allowed into Uganda without the need for testing on arrival.

-Vaccination campaign-

A total of 330,077 people have been so far inoculated with the first AstraZeneca jab in Uganda, and the country has received 964,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the World Health Organization (WHO)’s COVAX initiative and the Indian government.

The Ugandan government has prioritized access to vaccines for more than 21.9 million people at higher risk, including those working in the medical field, teachers, social workers, security personnel, the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions.

After the new variant first found in India was detected in Uganda, there is now a rush for the vaccine. “I appeal to the population to observe the standard operating procedures and get vaccinated against COVID-19,” said Aceng.

Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, WHO country representative to Uganda, said vaccinations will save the country from a surge in daily cases.

“If you (get) vaccinated, you prevent yourself from severe disease and death due to COVID-19. Transmission decreases when vaccination increases,” said Tegegn. “When transmission decreases, you prevent a mutation of the virus, save the health system and economic situation.”

As of Friday, Uganda had registered 41,866 COVID-19 cases, with 41,442 recoveries and 342 deaths.

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