Southern and Eastern Africa COVID-19 Digest

Situation Report
Uganda — Trends

Government starts to ease containment measures

  • First case: 21 March 2020

  • Total cases: 870 (as of 28 June 2020)

  • Total deaths: 0

  • Schools: Closed countrywide (9.6 million learners affected).

  • Borders/Flights: All borders closed; International flights suspended until 24 April, except for aircraft in a state of emergency, humanitarian aid, medical and relief flights and technical landings.

  • Containment measures: National curfew from 7 pm to 6:30 am from 31 March. Shops, hotels and restaurants allowed to resume operations since 26 May; private transports are also allowed, while public transports will resume on 4 June.

Situation:

Uganda has reported 870 people with COVID-19 as of 27 June. The number of people who contracted the virus was revised on 21 May, after the country deducted 120 foreign truck drivers who tested positive in Uganda from the total. The decision was directed by President Musevini, according to the Ministry of Health twitter account. The Ministry informed that, on 20 May, Uganda “handed over” 21 foreign truck drivers who tested positive for coronavirus to their country of origin. In total, at least 145 drivers have been sent back to their countries, according to the Ministry of Health. The Government had tried to change the official numbers when the first drivers tested positive in the country in Mid-April but had gone back on the decision following WHO guidance that any person with COVID-19 should be counted and treated in the country where their tested positive. On 28 April, the Ministry of Health denied allegations that Uganda was repatriating truck drivers.

Uganda reportedly started on 26 May a phased easing of restrictions imposed in March to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, according to media reports. Shops, hotels and restaurants are now allowed to resume operations as long as some measures, including social distancing guidelines and the mandatory use of face masks on public spaces, according to the media. Private transports are also allowed, while public transports will resume on 4 June. Private transport, however, is still banned in the country's border districts to limit cross-border transmissions. Schools are expected to restart on 4 June. All the other restrictions like closure of the country's borders except for cargo transport will remain in place, according to the Government, quoted by the media.

Uganda had previously instituted 54 measures to contain the virus, including closing all educational institutions, suspending communal prayers in mosques, churches and other venues, stopping all public political rallies, cultural gatherings or conferences, and banning the movement of all privately owned passenger vehicles. When the President announced on 14 April the estension of the measures he highlighted that, even during the lockdown, certain activities should continue, including work on farms to produce crops for food and cash, work in the factories, provided the companies camp their workers nearby, cargo transport, provision of utilities, medical services and others. UNHCR has urged all countries in the region, including Uganda, to continue to provide protection and access to asylum to people fleeing war and persecution during this challenging time.

Response:

The Government has implemented a house-to-house food distribution during the lockdown. President Museveni has stated that the food support is targeted in urban areas towards people who relied on daily earnings that have been impacted by the anti-COVID-19 measures–including working in hair salons; bars; night clubs; garages; selling non-food items in markets; etc–and who do not grow their own food.

Official sources:

Ministry of Health Official Twitter and Ministry of Health COVID-19 webpage

WHO Uganda

President Museveni’s fourth address

Other links:

UNHCR stepping up coronavirus prevention measures for refugees across East, Horn and Great Lakes region of Africa

COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, by UNESCO

COVID-19 World Travel Restrictions, by the Emergency Division of the World Food Programme (WFP)

Global COVID-19 Airport Status, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

Potential Socioeconomic Impact of COVID-19 in Angola: A Brief Analysis, by NHABITAT/UNDP

Policy Response to COVID-19, by IMF

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