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Uganda imposes new Covid-19 lockdown as cases surge after WHO warns of potentially disastrous wave for ill-prepared Africa

Uganda imposes new Covid-19 lockdown as cases surge after WHO warns of potentially disastrous wave for ill-prepared Africa
Uganda has entered another lockdown, with schools closed and inter-city travel suspended amid a worrying resurgence of Covid-19. The president warned that public health services could be quickly overwhelmed.

On Monday, schools, markets, and church services were all canceled in Uganda as the government’s strict new measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 came into effect. 

The measures were announced on Sunday night by the long-standing president, Yoweri Museveni, in a televised address. Museveni said that most of the restrictions would be imposed for 42 days, and following the six-week period, the government would then assess whether to ease or prolong measures. 

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The president described the current wave as “diffused and sustained,” adding that “the intensity of severe and critically ill Covid-19 patients and death is higher than what we experienced in the first wave of the pandemic.”

He stated that there was considerable worry within the government that cases would “exhaust the available bed space and oxygen supply in hospitals unless we constitute urgent public health measures.”

According to Reuters, the East African nation is reporting 820 new infections on average each day. To date, Uganda has registered nearly 53,000 positive cases and 383 deaths.

While these figures appear low for a nation of 44 million people, Uganda, like many African nations, has struggled with testing capacity. According to Ministry of Health data, positivity rates reached 18% on June 2, underlining the probable prevalence of the virus in the country, where the median age is just 16.7.

However, while the population is young, Uganda has 1.5 million people living with HIV and an ill-prepared healthcare system. 

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Last week, the World Health Organization warned of a worrying surge in Covid-19 cases on the African continent. “The threat of a third wave in Africa is real and rising,” WHO regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, said on Thursday. With vaccination levels on the continent almost non-existent, Moeti said that healthcare services were ill-prepared for further pressure. 

Infections rates are rising across the continent, with the WHO detecting an “exponential rise” in cases in Kinshasa, Africa’s most populous city according to some estimates, and further increases elsewhere, including Namibia and Angola.

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