KAMPALA – Speaker Rebecca Kadaga has advised legislators to avoid traveling abroad as a measure of curbing the spread of the coronavirus in Uganda.
“I want to urge members to desist from traveling because things are really happening. Unless it is necessary, let us stay put in our country because even on the plane, you can sit with people who are sick,” she said.
In her communication during the plenary sitting on Thursday, March 12, 2020, Kadaga informed MPs that the Inter-Parliamentary Union meeting in Geneva, Switzerland scheduled for April has been cancelled.
“The meeting in St. Petersburg [Russia] organized in early June by the Russian Federation Parliament has also been cancelled,” she added.
Meanwhile, Hon. David Abala (NRM, Ngora County) raised concern over the safety of Ugandans in light of a planned football match between Ugandan legends and celebrated international African football stars.
The French Embassy in Uganda is scheduled to host the annual event dubbed, ‘Uganda-France Friendship’ which will bring former football stars like Samuel Eto’o and Didier Drogba, from 22 to 28 March 2020.
Abala said that most of the stars in question are based in Europe and France, which have registered high cases of the virus.
“In Uganda there is no confirmed case of corona virus. I am worried in this scenario whether we shall be safe with the visit of those very powerful players. This may affect us in terms of spread of the corona virus in Uganda,” he said.
Hon. Alex Byarugaba (NRM, Isingiro South) urged government to follow measures against the virus including avoiding big gatherings.
“This virus is very contagious and we are advised against holding big gatherings and here we are preparing to welcome people from risky countries to come to Uganda,” he said.
The Minister of State for Sports, Hon. Denis Obua, said the French Ambassador in Uganda has held meetings with the Ministry of Health to agree on activities which would not involve those who travel from outside Uganda.
“If there is any decision to either stop any of the activities, we would act under the advice of the Ministry of Health. If we are advised that the French Embassy must go ahead and cancel or postpone, this must be done by the Ministry of Health after assessing all the activities,” he said.
The Minister of State for Health, Hon. Robinah Nabanja, said that an inter-ministerial committee will provide clear guidelines for all travels and gatherings.
“We cannot put the lives of Ugandans at risk,” she said.
Nabanja added that measures are in place in all boarder points to curb the spread of the virus.
“The issue of corona virus is an international problem and we as a Ministry are putting a number of measures. Nobody will come to the country without being screened,” she said.
Hon. Anthony Akol (FDC, Kilak County) however, punched holes in the Minister’s statement, saying that there is no screening of travelers coming into Uganda through the airport.
“The first travel I made was to South Korea. Then again I traveled to South Africa and returned on the 5th of this month. Every time I have traveled, other airports conduct screening but when I arrived at Entebbe airport, there is no screening taking place,” he said.
Kadaga however ejected Hon. Akol from the chamber, saying that he is endangering the lives of others.
“South Korea is one of the countries where there has been a big epidemic and Hon. Akol if you have been there please exit the chamber now. Please go to self-quarantine,” Kadaga said.