Uganda’s Health Minister Dr Ruth Aceng has issued a statutory instrument giving health officials more legal legroom to counter the spread of Coronavirus.
The Public Health Order which came into force on March 21, 2020, prohibits entry into Uganda of any persons and mandates landlords, employers and heads of households to notify authorities on Coronavirus suspects.
The instrument further requires medical personnel to refer Coronavirus cases to nearest referral hospitals and also manage communication to the loved ones of those killed by the virus.
Aceng’s new powers will strengthen her arm in cracking the whip as lawmakers and members of the public continue to take the Coronavirus pandemic lightly.
The medical officers now have powers to: order persons “who have been in contact with the person to remain on the premises where the person was at the time of infection;” and enter premises to search for any case of COVID19; disinfect premises.
Health officials today raided the home of MP Ssekitoleko Kafeero after refusing to report at Mulago hospital for medical checkup despite traveling to Dubai, a new epicenter of the Coronavirus crisis.
The bodies of all persons who die from COVID19, according to the new instrument, shall be disposed of in conformity with the directions of the medical officers of health.
This will likely stir a huge public debate especially in areas which have maintained conservative views on burying their loved ones.
Schools will not open till April 18, 2020 while bars, cinemas and places of worship will be closed till April 16, 2020.
Marriage and funeral ceremonies will wait till April 18, except where the people gathered are not more than 10.
Public meetings, including political rallies, conferences and cultural related meetings will hold till April 18. Flouting of this rule will see convicts sentenced to two years in jail or fine.
Public spitting has banned to stop the spread of the virus,
Those who escape from a “place designated for isolation or for quarantine for COVD-19”, a medical officer is expected to notify police and request the police to “apprehend and return the person the designated place.”
Cases of suspected Coronavirus patients escaping from designated monitoring facilities have been on the rise in recent days.
Any person who facilitates the scape of a person in a designated place will serve two months in prison.
Aceng now has powers to “declare any place to be an infected area, and regulate the activities that may be conducted in the infected area, where is it deemed necessary for preventing the spread of or for the eradication of CVID-19.”
The new statutory instrument also provides that all people in the declared infected area shall undergo medical examination and subjected to surveillance for 28 days.
Below is the statutory instrument in full: