Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has announced a ban on large public gatherings including weddings, church and Jumat services for the next 32 days in a bid to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The country has yet to record a case of the virus.
President Museveni also announced the closure of schools including universities, citing the need to prevent the influx of cases from countries in the East African region.
“To date, Uganda has not registered any case of coronavirus … but neighbors in the region including Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda confirmed cases of the virus last week, while DRC registered a case of coronavirus a week before,” Museveni said in a televised address announcing the ban.
Banks, hospitals, supermarkets and markets are not affected by the directive, but those in operation must adhere to hygiene measures and also provide their workers and those that come into their establishment with sanitizers.
The movement restrictions will affect Easter festivities and religious services – but Museveni said it was better for citizens to err on the side of caution.
“The prayers will continue but in homes. The religious leaders can use the TVs, radios stations to continue preaching. His Holiness, Pope Francis, as usual set a good example of enlightenment on this by abandoning his customary preaching in St. Peters’ Square and is instead, using the TV,” Museveni said.
Museveni said couples who cannot wait for the ban to be lifted may go ahead with their wedding ceremonies but not more than 10 people should be present at such events. The same restriction applies to burials.
Travel restrictions in Africa
However, the Ugandan government will be responsible for the burial of anyone who dies from coronavirus infection, Museveni said, adding that no relation of the deceased will be involved in such cases.
He ordered public transport operators to install hand washing facilities at bus stops and ensure that passengers are disinfected before they get on buses.
“Do not travel unless it is absolutely necessary, if you are using public transport,” Museveni said in his address after a meeting with religious leaders and health agencies in the country on Wednesday.
Uganda was one of the first African countries to impose travel restrictions on its citizens and others traveling from 16 countries it said had a high number of cases of coronavirus, including the US and UK last week. Health Minister Jane Aceng said those who insist on visiting the East African nation from these countries would have to self-quarantine for 14 days at their own cost at home or at a government facility.