Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Friday tightened restrictions in the country following a worrying rise in Covid-19 infections and deaths.
On a day when the country recorded 42 Covid-related deaths and 1,000 new infections, the Ugandan leader vowed to “stop the joke” of the public violating the public health guidelines, known locally as the Standard Operating Procedures [SOP].
He stopped the movement of public and private transport vehicles. Only security, emergency and other essential service providers, including the police, firefighters and the military have been exempted.
The new move tightened restrictions imposed a week ago, when cross-district travel was banned, schools closed and other public gatherings restricted yet the deaths continued to rise.
At the Mulago National Referral Hospital in the capital Kampala, a ‘technical fault’ on Wednesday cut off oxygen supply to Covid-19 patients at the facility, leading to the death of several patients. The new highest death toll would arrive two days later when the country reported 42 deaths, raising the number of those killed by the virus to more than 400.
“When I hear these people who have died…I am getting telephone calls from all over the place…they are telling me so and so is dying…and yet we told you from March last year, this joke must stop,” President Museveni said in his address to the nation on Friday.
The country had been operating under a tight set of restrictions, including a curfew that starts at 9pm to 5am, compulsory wearing of masks and social distance in public places.
The Ugandan leader lampooned schools and other learning institutions which he accused of sitting on evidence of possible infections in schools. He had said the same thing last week when he ordered schools closed. They will remain shut for the next 42 days.
“It is observed that some sections of the public are not adhering to the curfew hours. As such, curfew throughout the country is pulled back to 7pm to 5.30am,” he said.
The new move means Uganda, initially seen as winning the war on Covid-19 and reporting fewer cases compared to neighbouring Kenya, is now paying after its citizens dropped their guard.