KAMPALA – Parliament has suspended all foreign travels for legislators and staff to stem the spread of the deadly coronavirus, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga has said.
The virus, which has disrupted virtually all international travels, meetings and sporting events, has been described as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation.
Kadaga said that the Parliamentary Commission, the top most administrative body in Parliament, took the decision in light of growing cases infections in neighbouring countries.
“We have received confirmations of people suffering from the disease in all the states neighbouring Uganda except South Sudan, so we ought to take precaution,” she said during her communication on Tuesday 17 March 2020.
Before the suspension, Parliament had already cancelled its participation in two international meetings, the UN Women Meeting in New York and the ACP – EU Conference in Brussels, both scheduled for this month. Both meetings and the Inter-Parliamentary Union scheduled April in Geneva have since been called off.
Although no case of the virus has been confirmed in Uganda, cases have been confirmed in Kenya, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The fast-spreading flue like infection, Covid-19, was first reported in Wuhan, China, late last year and has spread in mostly Europe, the Middle East and the US, killing over 7,000 people.
House committees, individual MPs and staff have also called off various earlier scheduled travels out of the country.
During this period, the Clerk to Parliament has issued advisories in addition to those issued by the Ministry of Health, to Members and staff.
“We are in receipt of a travel advisory note from the Ministry of Health informing us of the countries affected by the coronavirus and to also consider restricting travels to affected countries,” the Clerk said in her communication to MPs.
The communication listed Italy, Iran, South Korea, France, China, Germany, Spain, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Norway, Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, India and the USA to avoid.
“Please be informed that while travel to affected countries has been cancelled, other countries are further being added on the list of high-risk countries,” she said.
The Clerk also advised persons travelling back from these countries not to report to Parliament to work but to self-quarantine at home for two weeks.