As Uganda moves ahead to ease the current COVID-19 lockdown, the Government recently made wearing of masks in public mandatory.
As a result, the Government looks forward to supplying face masks to all Ugandans above the age of 6 in the next 2 weeks.
Today, the Minister of Health Dr Jane Ruth Aceng issued guidelines that must be followed on the use of masks.
Aceng communicated the guidelines to reporters in Kampala.
Medical masks should be preserved for health workers in health facilities.
The community is encouraged to use non medical masks (especially cotton masks).
Adults and children aged 6 years and above should wear masks.
People with breathing difficulties should seek advice from medical personnel.
Children aged 2 to 6 years should only put on masks under close supervision.
Children below 2 years should not wear a mask as they have a small lung capacity.
Wash hands with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer whenever you touch the front or inside part of the mask.
Ensure the mask covers the nose, mouth and chin when wearing it.
Do not pick medical masks that have been disposed off.
Do not share masks even with close family members.
Do not re – use medical masks.
Do not borrow masks whether from family members, friends or relatives.
Do not buy medical masks from the streets.
To the people who will refuse to wear masks while in public, Aceng said will be penalized.
“Wearing masks is mandatory in Uganda as per the presidential directive and Statutory instruments S155 of 2020. You will denied access to any public facility without a mask,” she said.
On the issue of masks from Nytil which don’t meet specifications, the Minister said correct specifications have been given to all industries that will be contracted to make masks.
“It is not only from Nytil. Various industries, institutions, organizations and individuals went ahead to make masks and they made masks without specifications. We have given you the correct specifications based on scientific evidence. It is only wise that whoever is making a mask revisits whatever they have been doing and makes right specifications,” she said.
Asked whether Government will have distributed masks by the 4th of June when the ban on public transport will be lifted, Aceng said it is a procedure they are committed to undertake as Government and therefore various arms of state will come together to kick start the process.
“It will be done in a phased manner so that people can begin to access public transport.”
TESTING OF TRUCK DRIVERS.
Asked how Uganda will cooperate with Kenya which also started testing truck drivers at the Busia border, Aceng said discussions are underway to harmonize procedures.
“There are discussions going on to harmonize procedures. There was a summit by the Heads of State and they made proposals and which proposals we discussed with truck owners, the Ministers of Trade and the East African Community and we shall conclude the discussions on the 29th (May),” said Aceng.
In the Heads of State meeting, the Presidents agreed that there should be joint testing since various countries use various protocols for testing as some use rapid tests while others use PCR tests.
Aceng also said that there needs to be harmonization and Uganda will therefore be required to deploy its health officers in the other countries to observe the protocols and ensure that the testing meets Uganda’s standards.