Uganda sent the police to chase vendors selling merchandise in Kampala despite a Covid-19 stay home orders given by the President.
Last Friday, authorities in Uganda declared a 42-day lockdown, following a surge in cases. But some residents have been sneaking into the city to make a living.
Over 200 people were arrested as they went about their business activities in the city centre.
"Part of the guidelines was to make sure that hawkers and people who are selling on the roadside are not doing that business, but unfortunately we found many of them doing that and over 200 have been arrested," said Kampala police spokesman Luke Owoyesigire.
Only pharmacies, supermarkets and other stores selling essential goods are allowed to open, according to the new measures.
Public transport is also suspended, with only cargo truckers and flights exempted from the ban.
The east African country has not announced any social protection plan for its poor and those rendered jobless by the new measures.
"We are moving because we have nothing to eat, but what if we have something to eat? We could not be arrested. We’re arrested because we have been just moving, selling to get something to eat," said Musa Kalyango, a 30-year-old street vendor.
Police have been given orders to arrest and seize goods belonging to vendors.
Uganda's security forces have been accused of high-handedness during the enforcement of lockdown orders. Two people are known to have been killed by police officers overseeing a ban on inter-district travel.
Activists have accused the government of botching its response to the pandemic.
Uganda borrowed nearly a billion dollars last year for Covid-19 response but an audit revealed that millions were stolen or irregularly spent. - Africanews
The entrance to the Ugandan parliament. Photo Nation Media Group
More than 200 workers in the Ugandan parliament, who include MPs, have tested positive for Covid-19 in the last three weeks.
The news come amid fears that their drivers and relatives could be carrying a contagious variant of the virus that has killed more than 700 people in the country.
Sources told the Daily Monitor that the last three tests in parliament returned high prevalence rates and that “there are positive cases every other day”.
State House and the Ministry of Health conducted the last three tests and communicated results to the authorities in Parliament.
All the affected MPs and staff were also ordered to self-isolate and seek treatment as a matter of urgency.
Due to the high prevalence of Covid-19 in Parliament, MPs and staff who were not feeling well were referred to Makerere University Hospital for tests. Others had the tests done at an undisclosed laboratory in Butabika.
Some of the worst hit departments in the Ugandan parliament are Procurement, Finance, Information and Communications Technology and the office of Sergeant at Arms.
To avert what sources called “a catastrophe in the House”, Speaker Jacob Oulanyah, who is currently “working from home”, instructed Ms Jane Kibirige, the parliamentary clerk, to shut down the House for two weeks.
The deputy Clerk in-charge of Corporate Affairs, Mr Henry Wasswa Yoweri, wrote to MPs about the planned closure of parliament for two weeks effective June 28.
“Parliament of Uganda like the rest of the country has been affected by the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic with a positivity rate of 17.1 per cent,” Mr Wasswa wrote.
“As a mitigating measure to the prevention of the Covid-19 infection, the administration of parliament in consultation with the office of the Speaker is closing Parliament to Hon Members of Parliament for a period of two weeks in order to disinfect the parliamentary buildings,” he added.
Mr Wasswa wrote the letter on behalf of Ms Kibirige who is in self-isolation after she got into contact with undisclosed sick MPs and staff.
After receiving news about the widespread infections in parliament, on June 11, the General Counsel to Parliament, Mr Pius Biribonwoha, wrote a letter on behalf of Ms Kibirige, issuing stringent measures to prevent, mitigate and protect the parliamentary community from the spread of Covid-19.
“We have received reports of increasing numbers of infected persons in our parliamentary community within the last three weeks. As a result, and in consultation with the Rt. Hon Speaker of Parliament, we have been advised to immediately adopt and implement the following measures to mitigate further spread of Covid-19 within the precincts of Parliament,” Mr Biribonwoha wrote.
Key measures taken
Some of the key measures include scaling down of the number of staff that operate from the office premises with immediate effect. All heads of department have also been instructed to draw up new work schedules and ensure 20 per cent office presence, while 80 per cent of the staff will work from home for the next 42 days.
“This is a measure to decongest the parliamentary precincts and to ensure safety of the parliamentary community,” Mr Biribonwoha explained.
Sources told Daily Monitor that the new work schedules were submitted to the authorities on June 14.
Authorities in parliament also instructed strict observance of correct wearing of face masks at all times, handwashing or sanitising regularly, social distancing, getting Covid-19 vaccination and having body temperature checked at the designated entry points.
They also ordered staff and MPs to stay away if they are feeling unwell or have flu or cough or suspect exposure, and immediately take a Covid-19 test.
Mr Biribonwoha informed heads of departments that any breach of the Covid-19 measures could lead to disciplinary action.
The parliamentary staff and MPs were also informed that in case they tested positive for Covid-19, treatment is covered by all insurance companies contracted by the Parliamentary Commission.
Mr Biribonwoha had also instructed parliamentary police to restrict access to Parliament by MPs and members of staff.
The news about the rising infections among MPs comes at a time when the country is battling the second wave of a pandemic that has cumulatively killed 714 people.
On Sunday, the government confirmed the deaths of 34 people in a single day and 722 new cases. This brought the total cumulative confirmed cases to 73,401. The national positivity rate stood at 17.4 per cent, according to the June 20 Ministry of Health statistics.
To mitigate the spread of the virus, President Yoweri Museveni on Friday announced a 42-day nationwide lockdown.
The 234 deaths registered in the last one month compelled the President to declare a total lockdown, six months after authorities had promised a gradual phased re-opening of the economy.
Between May 18 and June 18, Uganda recorded 25,685 new infections. - Daily Monitor
The South Sudanese woman who is being detained at a Nairobi hospital. Photo by Voice of Reconciliation 98:4 FM
NAIROBI – A South Sudanese mother is pleading for help after being detained at a Nairobi hospital. Aluel James Deng says she had an emergency delivery and had twins at Ruai Family Hospital in Nairobi. She says when she could not pay the medical bill of 1.4 million shillings or about 13-thousand dollars, hospital authorities would not allow her to leave.
Reached by phone at the hospital ward in Nairobi, Aluel James Deng says three days ago she had an emergency delivery which forced her to be admitted to Ruai Family Hospital where she gave birth to twins.
On Thursday, Deng says the hospital served her with a medical bill totaling 1.4 million Kenya shillings, an amount she says she cannot pay.
“The most painful part is, this hospital is treating [me] like [I am] not a human being. How can a bill of three days become 13,000 US dollars? I am heartbroken because the father of the kids left me, maybe because of the bills, I don’t know. I am hurt also because my other children are with a neighbor”, she explained.
Deng says she moved to Nairobi in 2020 on the invitation of her husband, a Kenyan man she identifies as Samuel Otieno who she says is the father of the twins after she had two children by another man.
Deng says when Otieno disappeared and left her at the hospital with a towering medical bill, she turned to her parents but in vain.
“My dad is so hard to get hold of. I tried to get hold of him. My mum, I don’t know where she is, my sister I don’t know where she is. I am all alone. I tried to contact them. I tried, I tried. But can’t. All the numbers that they gave me, they are not going through so I am alone”, she said.
The 30-year old mother from Warrap State says after all her attempts to contact relatives and ask them to intervene failed, she turned to social media to tell her story.
An official in charge of client relations at the hospital confirmed to this program that a South Sudanese woman gave birth to twins at the hospital three days ago and she is not able to pay her bills. But the official declined to comment further saying he/she is not authorized to speak to the media. The official says the hospital would issue a statement later in the day.
We saw copies of several medical bills that Deng is expected to clear before leaving the hospital gate including charges for admission, ambulance, maternity, nutrition and pharmacy bills.
Reached by phone from the Kenya Capital Nairobi, Chol Ajongo, South Sudan Ambassador to Kenya, says he is aware of a South Sudanese woman who has given birth to twins at the hospital facing high medical bills but unfortunately, Ajongo says there is nothing the embassy can do.
“This is purely a family issue, a girl who is married to a Kenyan, who delivered in a hospital, we don’t know the details of why would the bill would kick to 13-000 US dollars as if somebody has done a heart operation. Embassy can do nothing. What is required of embassy, we come to assist our nationals when they have legal issues but not medical bills which is more or less something to do with maternity”, Ajongo said.
Ambassador Ajongo said he was able to reach Aluel’s father who is a Member of Parliament in the South Sudanese National Legislative Assembly. He said the father was not in position to help. This program wasn’t able to reach Aluel’s father immediately.
Deng is asking well-wishers for support.
“This is a real story. There is no conman. There is no conwoman. And I am seeking help from my people, from my South Sudanese people. And I know it is shameful but I had to come out. You can’t die in silence,” he said.
Someone who identified himself as Chelsea Badal has started a GoFundMe, a social media fundraising platform to help Deng raise money to pay her medical bills. At press time, GoFundMe account had only 63 dollars out of 15,000 dollars set as the target. - Sudans Post
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