KAMPALA – The Ministry of Health will present an official status statement to Parliament on the impact of the Coronavirus after a cabinet meeting whose main agenda will be on the pandemic.
The Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Hon. Vincent Ssempijja said Cabinet will meet on Monday, March 16, 2020 to discuss the threat of the virus.
The minister said these after Speaker Rebecca Kadaga read a travel advisory from the Ministry of Health that was addressed to all Ministers on postponement of international conferences and meetings in light of COVID19.
The advisory indicates that according to the World Health Organization, 92 countries have reported cased of the virus, with 31 having local transmission; thus declaring the disease a pandemic.
“With over 105,500 cases reported worldwide, Uganda remains at a high risk of importation of COVID19 from infected countries due to travel, trade and social linkages as Uganda maintains an open border policy,” Kadaga read.
She said the Health Ministry was conducting heightened preparedness activities across the country, with five entry points including Entebbe International Airport, Busia, Kyanika, Elegu and Malaba being activated for enhanced surveillance and screening.
“The Ministry recommends that all international meetings, conferences and summits scheduled to be held in Uganda be temporarily postponed until the situation improves,” said Kadaga.
State Minister of Finance (Planning), Hon. David Bahati said the Ministry of Finance would also present a statement on Thursday, March 19, 2020, detailing the economic effects of COVID19 and how they are being mitigated to save the country’s economy.
Members of Parliament tasked Government to weigh in on the impacts which the threat of the coronavirus is having on Uganda citing a hike in prices of necessities for hygiene precaution like disinfectants on the market.
MPs expressed concern over a call by State Minister for Mineral Development, Hon Sarah Opendi to the public, not panic but rather stay calm given that there are no confirmed cases in the country.
“There is a lot of over-exaggerated panic out there. While coronavirus is highly infectious and can lead to death, the fatality rate is not more than six percent compared to lethal viruses like Ebola and Marburg whose fatality rates were over 67 percent,” said Opendi.
Hon. Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda (FDC, Kira Municipality) alluded to action taken by the Government of Kenya to close borders and institutions like schools which indicated the potential of panic in neighboring countries.
“We depend on Kenya for fuel and if one case of coronavirus is reported in Uganda and our neighbors close the border, panic will easily come over the country,” said Ssemujju Nganda.
Busia Municipality MP, Hon. Godfrey Macho said that residents in his constituency did not have access to facemasks and disinfectants or sanitizers to prevent the spread of COVID19.
“These items are out of stock because their prices on the border have gone up. People from as far as Mombasa have called me to ask where they can get these sanitizers. I urge Government to get prepared,” Macho said.