Uganda's Museveni orders closure of schools, bans public gatherings

Wednesday March 18 2020

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni. PHOTO | SUMY SADURNI | AFP


Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has ordered closure of all schools for 30 days effective Friday March 20.

In a televised address on Wednesday afternoon, Museveni said the move is a measure to contain the potential spread of coronavirus.

“We have decided to close the education institutions even before the virus [gets here]. The crowds are perfect grounds for new infections and we should therefore move early to avoid the stampede,” said Museveni.

Uganda has not reported any case but has set up an isolation facilities in Entebbe, about 45km south of the capital Kampala and Mulago.

“We must do anything possible to ensure that this enemy does not come here, that it doesn’t find dry grass to ignite,” said Museveni.

The country has restricted travel to 16 virus-hit countries including Italy, France, South Korea, China, USA, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Norway Austria, Malaysia, Pakistan and San Marino.


Neighbouring countries Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and DR Congo have reported cases of the respiratory illness.

Hotels, taxi parks, factories, markets and farm workers have also been ordered to adhere procedures laid down by the Ministry of Health.

Public gatherings including worship, pubs, weddings, music shows, rallies and cultural meetings have been suspended for 32 days with immediate effect.

On burials, Museveni directed they be conducted by close relatives but if the death is related to Covid-19 the government will intervene.

“Most importantly it will be safe for the participants. But however if the deceased has died of the corona virus, the state will take over and bury the victim using scientific methods,” added Museveni.

The head of state also announced that foreigners and Ugandan citizens arriving in the country will be put under 14-day mandatory quarantine, but will fund for their institutional quarantine.

Last week, Health Minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng announced suspension on self-isolation policy subjected to travellers from affected countries.

“We quarantine you for 14 days in our identified places for your own safety and others. My appeal is that we adhere to the rules of quarantine and we no longer do self-quarantine but mandatory. Many refused it, it is not a choice,” said Dr Aceng.

Uganda has also put a ban on Ugandans seeking to travel to or through highly affected countries for 32 days.

Foreigners living in the country will only be allowed to leave after they provide assurance not to return within 32 days.