Government imposed a 14-day lockdown starting April 1 where all non-essential workers were ordered to stay home in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
While updating parliament on the implementation plan for the COVID-19 presidential directives, prime minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, said the food distribution will start with Kampala and Wakiso before rolling it out across the country.
“The items will be distributed at Local Council one level with close supervision of the police and army to ensure order and transparency,” Rugunda said.
The food items to be distributed are; six kilograms of maize flour and three kilograms of beans and salt per head. Lactating mothers and the sick will additionally receive more two kilograms of powdered milk and two kilograms of sugar.
President Yoweri Museveni said on Monday that the vulnerable people may be supported by government with food items for at least a month until normalcy returns in the country. He warned about proper identification of beneficiaries and that distribution must be done in a health conscious way.
“We are looking at groups who were feeding themselves but living hand to mouth. Once you stop what they are doing because of health issues, where do they get food?” Museveni asked.
He added: “The majority of people in the country feed themselves like the farmers have their gardens and people in the towns have money and bank accounts with savings.”
Rugunda chairs the multi-sectoral National Taskforce for COVID-19 that will spearhead the distribution exercise. The membership comprises relevant ministries, parliament, private sector, civil society and secretaries generals of all political parties represented in parliament.
The president said the Office of the Prime Minister would work out a mechanism for the distribution. Martin Owor, the commissioner of Disaster Preparedness at the Office of the Prime Minister says they have used national statistics from UBOS to identify the most vulnerable places with the urban poor. The areas listed include; Kireka, Nansana, Katanga and others. He says they will also use the LC chairpersons to identify further the neediest people.
Owor says they chose to start with Kampala and Wakiso because the urban poor here come from far areas and yet survive on daily earnings. He says they hope the situation will have normalised after 14 days otherwise, they will have to think of how to extend food to more groups in need.
"Security will stay at the distribution point from the beginning up to the end of the exercise," reads part of the statement.
UPDATE ON COVID-19 CASES
In his address on COVID-19 cases, Rugunda said government is considering adopting rapid diagnostic test kits pending approval by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
This, he said, will expedite the testing process and allow for increased numbers of screened persons for COVID-19. Uganda registered her first case of COVID-19 on March 21 in a male traveller from Dubai aboard Ethiopian Airlines. Currently, Uganda has registered 44 cases of COVID-19. Majority of the cases were travellers from UAE and UK with 14 cases each. Districts with confirmed cases include Masaka, Hoima, Adjumani and Kampala.
Rugunda said all the confirmed persons have been admitted in Entebbe Grade B hospital (15), Mulago hospital (15), Adjumani (1), and Hoima hospitals (2).
“All patients presented with mild symptoms and are improving on treatment. The 11 cases [from Watoto Children's Choir] that were confirmed last night are in the process of evacuation to Mulago hospital. Uganda has not registered any COVID-19 related death, and we pray all those receiving treatment recover fully,” he said. The contacts of the 11 new cases are yet to be identified.
Speaking briefly to NBS television today, the Associate Team Leader at Watoto, Pastor Julius Rwotlonyo said the affected persons and children are part of the choir members that had returned from the UK two weeks ago and under quarantine in Entebbe.
“I have been in touch with the children and none is in critical condition. I am glad to report that they are doing well,” Rwotlonyo said in a televised Skype interview.
All individuals under self-quarantine completed the mandatory 14-day period on March 31, 2020. For now, at least 1,015 individuals are still under institutional quarantine including those from UAE who responded to the ministry of Health call to report to Mulago for assessment.
Ruguda said more 660 contacts to the confirmed cases have been listed and are being followed up. The contacts have been advised to isolate themselves at home as the health ministry epidemiologists continue to monitor them daily for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, screening of individuals has also expanded to Mulago specialised national hospital to cover greater Kampala and designated as an isolation and treatment center. At all regional referral hospitals, isolation facilities have been prepared to receive confirmed cases.