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:
- Close all the Educational Institutions which accounted for 15 million young Ugandans;
- Suspend communal prayers in Mosques, Churches or in Stadia and other open air venues;
- Stop all public political rallies, cultural gatherings or conferences;
- Banned Ugandans from moving to or through category one (I) countries that had had a large number of corona cases by that time;
- We allowed returning Ugandans provided they underwent mandatory quarantine, at their cost, for 14 days at a venue identified by the Ministry of Health;
- 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.;
- 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;
- Burials could not be postponed, but it should be for a few people ─ the concerned homestead;
- 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;
- 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;
- The discos, dances, bars, sports, music shows, cinemas and concerts were all suspended;
- Number 12 was hygiene and enlightened 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
- We must also boost 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:
- Stopped all passengers coming into Uganda by air, land or water; this affected in-coming planes, buses, taxis or boats;
- 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.
The Measures above are repeated here as issued by H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni