By Nuru Ahmed

As the Ugandan government monitors the movement of coronavirus in the region, the President of Uganda has ordered a 30-day ban of all public gatherings.

Speaking at a meeting held at State House on March 18, 2020 , President Yoweri Museveni shared the critical decision in a crisis meeting held on Monday 16 March 2020 with top religious leaders at State House in Entebbe. 

The meeting was attended by Inter-Religious Council (IRCU), Council of Presidents in attendance, Heads of Ministry of Health, and specialists from the medical fraternity.

During the shutdown, the president directed that no church services will be conducted, no more night prayers, or fellowships, no Juma –Islamic Friday prayers will be held, and more restrictions have been imposed on social service centers like schools and Banks.  Hospitals will be observed while supermarkets will remain open during the shutdown.

According to the Presiding Apostle Dr Joseph Serwadda, President Museveni has directed that schools should start closing by Wednesday 18, March 2020 and by Friday 20, March 2020 all schools should have closed. Parents are expected to pick their children and students from schools during this period.

President Museveni said he will make a pronouncement on public service institutions including prisons, army barracks and government agencies because their management is not so complicated.

“Dealers in public transport have to equip buses and taxis with hand washing facilities to ensure every passenger gets disinfected before and after boarding a vehicle,” he said.

Details on how markets and other places where people source for livelihood will be communicated in the president’s address today afternoon, and respective circulars will be released to that effect.

In case of a coronavirus breakout, President Museveni said, “a lockdown will be enforced on affected areas as a standby team of health official take on the role of handling the matter.”

However, this shutdown has come at a time when parliament is also contemplating suspension of business as the coronavirus pandemic rages on.

All other preventive measures have been intensified including screening at entry points and a 14-day quarantine for travelers entering the country.

Uganda has not registered any case of coronavirus yet, but neighbors in the region including Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda confirmed cases of the virus last week, while Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) registered a case of coronavirus a week before.

The proposed 30-day shutdown means the Easter season festivities for Christians will be affected with prayers conducted either on television, online, or suspended.