Address on the Corona virus (COVID 19) and guidelines on preventive measures

Wed, 03/31/2021
  1. It spreads through inhalation if somebody with the virus coughs (okukororra) or sneezes (okwetsyamura) near you ? within four metres from you. It will, then, infect you through the inhalation of the rwooya (vapour) of the sick person that would have coughed or sneezed.
  2. The second mode of spreading is when the infected person pollutes surfaces such as tables, door handles, etc. If you touch the polluted surface and, then, touch yourself in the soft parts of the body: eyes, nose or mouth, you also get infected. The virus cannot go through the normal, intact skin of a human being. It only goes through the soft parts mentioned above.
  3. Although the healthy people afflicted may survive, it can kill alot of people that already have other medical conditions such as Aids, blood-pressure, pregnancy, diabetes, sickle-cells, cancer, the elderly, etc. In China, its kill rate was 4.05%.  In Italy its now 11.03% and Spain, its kill rate is now 8.4%.  It even kills the young people in some circumstances, like the young doctor, Li Wenliang, of Wuhan in China, who first identified this problem. He was only 33 years old.

Given its spread methods ? sneezing and coughing by an inconsiderate and careless person in a cluster of people bunched together as well as an individual's own carelessness of touching the soft parts of your   body (the eyes, the nose and the mouth) without washing your hands or sanitizing them first, after careful study, we decided that this virus will spread fastest if it gets into large concentrations of people, some of whom may be behaving inconsiderately or carelessly as stated above. We, therefore, adopted the strategy of dispersing any concentration that may provide fuel to this virus.

In my address of the 18th of March, 2020, I put out 13 actions that dealt with this problem, in part, as well as other associated matters.  The 13 measures were:

  1. Close all the Educational Institutions which accounted for 15 million young Ugandans;
  2. Suspend communal prayers in Mosques, Churches or in Stadia and other open air venues;
  3. Stop all public political rallies, cultural gatherings or conferences;
  4. Banned Ugandans from moving to or through category one (I) countries that had had a large number of corona cases by that time;
  5. We allowed returning Ugandans provided they underwent mandatory quarantine, at their cost, for 14 days at a venue identified by the Ministry of Health;
  6. We allowed the non-agricultural gathering points to continue but with SOPs(Standard Operating Procedures) put out by the Ministry of Health; and these gathering points were: factories, hotels, large plantations, markets, taxi-parks, etc.;
  7. We discouraged the hexagonal, extravagant Ugandan-style weddings; if in a hurry, we encouraged the couples to go for the scientific weddings by the actual stakeholders, accompanied by a few people;
  8. Burials could not be postponed, but it should be for a few people ? the concerned homestead;
  9. With the 33 million farmers, according to the 2014 census, there was no problem because they are dispersed in their farms, plantations, etc.; the only issues to deal with here were the monthly or weekly cattle auction markets (ebikomera); and obutare (food markets); these were suspended;
  10. At that time, we thought that we could continue with the public transport systems of buses, mini-buses, taxis, boda-bodas, etc., provided they were given SOPs;
  11. The discos, dances, bars, sports, music shows, cinemas and concerts were all suspended;
  12. Number 12 was hygiene and enlightened (not kikafiri behavior ) behaviours of not coughing or sneezing in public, no spitting, washing with soap and water or using sanitizers, regularly disinfecting surfaces such as tables, door handles, etc. and not touching your eyes, nose or mouth with contaminated and unwashed hands; and
  13. Ended with nutrition to strengthen the body defence system.

We quickly, however, learnt that some of the actors were not obeying these measures and that, for instance, the returnees from abroad, from the high risk countries, were escaping from the quarantine even when it was mandatory. The ones in self-quarantine were also escaping, e.g. the Chinese that were arrested on the Congo boarder, in Zombo or the returnee from Kisumu that is the father of the Iganga baby that turned up positive that went into hiding. These gaps could cause us serious problems.

These gaps were undermining the strategy of denying the virus the fuel that it could ignite and sustain its expansion by ensuring that there is no match-box and there is no dry grass ? no virus and no concentrated masses. Therefore, on the 25th of March, 2020, on the 41st Anniversary of the battle of Rugaando, I announced two new measures:

  1. Stopped all passengers coming into Uganda by air, land or water; this affected in-coming planes, buses, taxis or boats;
  2. Also prohibited from entry were the pedestrians ? people walking on foot from the neighbouring countries.

In all these measures, we were careful to clearly state that cargo planes and cargo vehicles, within Uganda and between Uganda and the outside, should continue with only the crews for the air-crafts and 3 persons per cargo vehicle.

Then, on the 21st of March, 2020, we announced additional measures as follows:

  • All public passenger transport vehicles are stopped and those were: taxis, coasters, buses, passenger trains, tuk-tuks (tri-cycles) and bodabodas;
  • Secondly, in order to scale down the numbers of the populations in the markets, we announced that only food sellers should remain in the markets; the non-food sellers should suspend their activities. 

However, private vehicles could continue but with only 3 people maximum per vehicle. However, ambulances, army vehicles, garbage collection vehicles, etc., would continue.

Since that time, we have been monitoring the situation. It was good we took all these measures. However, there are still windows through which the virus can continue to spread.  As of today, the 30th of March, 2020, 31 Ugandans and 2 Chinese have been confirmed as being positive with the virus.

Almost all of them are imported cases by Ugandans returning from mainly Dubai (UAE), Europe, the USA and Afghanistan.  Only 3 are the ones that received it from the importers. These are: the wife and daughter of the Masaka man and the baby from Iganga whose father had returned from Kisumu in Kenya.  Out of the 33, the number of  eight (8) were intercepted at Entebbe, in the quarantine or, even, at the airport, like the case number one, who was detected by the temperature monitor and another 7 that were first identified by the temperature monitoring system. This means that 14 out of the 33 had already entered the ekibuga (city, town), the lujja (compound) and some had even entered omuunju ? munyuumba (inside the house) since we did not detect them at the Eireembo (the main entrance) or they escaped from the Eishaazi ? the holding ground ? by escaping from the quarantine.  How many other Ugandans did they interact closely with to infect them? That is what we need to discover and soonest.  It is good that those who start feeling the symptoms report themselves, like the case from Hoima did.  However, this disease has two characteristics that make the work of fighting it tedious and quite challenging and need maximum vigilance.

One characteristic is that some of the infected people may not feel sick and may not even know that they are infected. Yet, they will continue spreading the disease, of course, through the carelessness of the general population of, for instance, polluting surfaces and touching oneself in the soft parts of one's body: the eyes, the nose and the mouth; and sitting very close to one another even if the infected person is not coughing. After further careful analysis, we have come to the conclusion that to be on the safe side, it is better we err on the side of caution than to wait for a possible situation like of some countries where a 1,000 people are dying per