Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has said he is still assessing whether to ban public transport as part of his government’s efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) which has wreaked havoc across the world.
“Now, the only remaining thing is public transport. That's what I'm still struggling with in my head. If you don't have your private means of transport, don't use public transport. Stay at home. Where are you going? I'm thinking of having temperature monitors at disembarkation and embarkation points of these public means of transport. I don't want to ban them but I'm trying to discourage you (citizens) from using them,” Mr Museveni said while addressing the nation after Uganda’s first confirmed case of Covid-19.
“Before I came here, I saw a young man called Obuku who used to make a lot of noise speaking nonsense, but this time he spoke some sense. I heard him telling people to stay home. So coronavirus shouldn't be underestimated because it's making some people speak sense.”
According to the president, it is possible that the confirmed case, a 36-year-old man from Kibuli in the capital Kampala, picked up the virus on his way from Dubai where he had travelled on a business trip.
The man is said to have travelled to Dubai on March 17, 2020 and returned to Uganda on March 21, before he was identified and quarantined.
“They have told me about his people. They have checked them (family members) and it seems they have no serious sicknesses. There's a possibility that he picked up the virus from Dubai,” Mr Museveni said.
NO SHAKING HANDS
The president discouraged Ugandans from shaking hands saying it could help prevent the spread of the pandemic that has confined over a billion people in the world to their homes.
“No shaking of hands. I see you people knocking elbows; elbows for what? I have seen you and greeted you. Why do I need to knock your elbow? Those are idiotic things,” he said.
“To the school children [who] were sent home, please stay home, do not loiter. The address we sent you was to stay at home, not the trading centres. Otherwise reckless movement poses a risk of contracting the virus. The other day I was telling you how we survived smallpox. It was by staying at home. It killed some people but those who stayed home survived.”
President Museveni also reiterated the directive for bars and nightclubs to remain closed in order to curb the spread of the virus.
“Night clubs and bars are not workplaces. They are ad-hoc and anybody comes in and that's where the danger is. Therefore, they should all be closed.”
He also reminded Ugandans to always wash their hands. Those working in offices, he said, should ensure their work stations are cleaned and sanitised.
“Please wash your hands at all times. In offices, you could have someone go around with disinfectants cleaning tables, chairs and other surfaces. But on a personal level, wash your hands frequently and don't touch your delicate parts like nose, mouth and eyes ... The way I see it, this virus is easy to defeat if you follow the NRA way. This is a war of people. I'm here to lead the people's war like I led the village people [in 1980s]. We defeated HIV/Aids with the ABC strategy.”
President Museveni also told his people to discard superstitions, saying they are a hindrance to the war against the coronavirus.
“We have been trying to get some schools to quarantine these people but some of them believe in superstitions, that it will [bring] them bisirani (bad luck). I will talk to Mama Janet and her headteachers whom I thought were people from university but unfortunately [they are] governed by superstitions.”
Uganda’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Diana Atwine appealed to hotels where travellers arriving in the country are being quarantined to be extra-careful.
Dr Atwine appealed to the hotels to ensure their workers are not exposed.
“Give the workers masks and protective gloves because they do not know who is well and who is not. Iron (your) bedding," she said.
According to her, every person that comes into the country will undergo institutional quarantine.
"It doesn’t matter if they are coming from Category One or not,” she said.