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Uganda Lifts Some COVID-19 Restrictions


FILE - A nurse administers the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to a woman at the Butanda Health Centre III in western Uganda, April 27, 2021.

Uganda has lifted some COVID-19 restrictions after 42 days, while others stay in place. The lockdown of schools remains until, the government says, some essential workers including health workers, security personnel, teachers, and those over 45 years old, are vaccinated.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni Friday night announced the partial lifting of the COVID-19 lockdown after 42 days.

Museveni says the decision was made by the National Task Force after considering a decrease in cases, positivity rates and hospital admissions.

Among other factors, the task force also considered the degree of adherence to safety, procedures by the population and the effects of a continuous lockdown on the economy and on residents. However, there are still restrictions even with this partial lifting of the lockdown.

"Curfew time is maintained at 7:00 p.m. Number two, boda bodas are now allowed to move up to 18:00 hours," Museveni said. "They are now allowed to carry one passenger. Schools should remain closed until sufficient vaccination of the eligible population of children aged 12 to 18 years old has taken place.”

Business centers are now required to clear pathways through rented kiosks and places of worship remain closed for another 60 days. In addition, outdoor sports events will be held without spectators, and bars and indoor sports activities remain closed until the population is sufficiently vaccinated.

With this partial lifting of the lockdown, Museveni says the National Planning Authority and task force officials project that cases could be reduced to 85 per day by the third week and 66 cases per day by the 28th day. Officials are urging the population to observe standard safety procedures to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

As of July 29, Uganda had registered 252 new cases with 29 deaths in the previous 48 hours. Cumulative confirmed cases stand at 93,927.

Public transport has been allowed to resume with half the normal number of passengers and private vehicles are only allowed three occupants.

Ugandan Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng says the COVID-19 mass vaccination program was slowed down by the global shortage of vaccine because the demand outweighs production.

Aceng says the Ugandan government has issued a list of vaccines that can be used in the country including AstraZeneca, Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer-BioNtech, Sinopharm, Sinovac, Sputnik V, Sputnik Light and Moderna, adding that Health Ministry officials are doing everything possible to obtain vaccine.

"Government of Uganda’s strategy is mass vaccination of the eligible population of 22 million people, representing 49.8% as a means of optimal control of the pandemic and full opening up of the economy," Aceng said. "In addition, consideration will be given to children aged 12 to 15 years with comorbidities.”

In his address, Museveni said schools should continue teaching online, something that has kept many schools and poor students out.

Ismail Kisule, a private school teacher says the past year has been difficult since his income has been cut.

"Since the first lockdown, we have not got any hope of going back to teach. Which means we have not been getting paid," Kisule said. "So, when the government says they are going to wait until they vaccinate more people so as to allow us resume work, will worsen our situation and force us to drop teaching.”

Uganda has concluded the legal requirements with the COVAX facility to acquire 9 million AstraZenca vaccine doses. Additionally, an order of 2 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been requested from the African Union and a downpayment of $3 million has been made.

Uganda has received 1,725,280 doses of vaccine in the past week from China and Norway. It is still not clear when those vaccines will be distributed.

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