Uganda eases COVID-19 restrictions

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. PHOTO/Presidential Press Unit
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. PHOTO/Presidential Press Unit

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni on Friday relaxed curbs in a lockdown instituted 42-days ago after the country registered a ‘‘consistent reduction in new COVID-19 infections and deaths.’’

Tensions had started mounting in the capital, Kampala, with some people vowing to march to State House in protest of lockdown, further accusing the state of extravagance and consequently fronting a wrong agenda.

‘‘A sharp fall in hospital COVID-19 patient admissions from over 1,000 in early June to just over 600 ending July,’’ the president says was enhanced by a stricter lockdown.

Quoting ministry of health data, Museveni informed the nation that ”Test Positivity Rate had even fallen from 22 to as low as 8 percent, recently.”

However, Museveni said COVID-19 fatalities still hovered slightly high due to anti-restriction elements he described as ‘prophets of doom.’

‘‘There’s one of our indigenous drugs we were testing and we needed 124 patients to try our drug in them but they were not available in March…but because of the mistake of false prophets- coming to May we had over 2,000 COVID-19 fatalities,’’ Museveni said.

Under the new directives, public transport means including taxis are allowed to resume operations starting August 2 with a stringent 50 percent passenger limit.

Addressing the nation, Museveni said civil Standard Operating Measures (SOPs) obedience in disciplines allowed to operate will be reviewed after two weeks.

Museveni further called for a scale-up of a vaccination drive that targets inoculating 22 million nationals.

“Scientists tell me that children above the age of 12 can also be vaccinated using the Pfizer vaccine. The Ministry of Health will review that before schools are granted resumption,’’ he noted.

Experts on the COVID-19 advisory committee urged Museveni not to fully reopen, cautioning that this would lead to a full-blown pandemic, spiking infections by 500 fresh infections  daily with a weekly average of about 2,000 new cases- ‘‘taking the country directly to the third wave.’’

‘‘The other options was not opening up. Here the country would 30 infections daily averaging 246 infections weekly.  This measure has negative impacts on the economy and people,’’ he explained.

Projections over the third option that involves a phased reopening predict 309 new cases per day in the first week but they (cases) are forecasted to dwindle to about 80 overnight infections by week three.