By Frank Kamuntu
Kampala: Due to the traders outcry over poverty and hunger ever since they were locked down in March, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni last month eased lockdown and allowed arcades traders to resume operations while observing Ministry of Health guidelines on deadly COVID-19 pandemic disease.
However, according to the Minister for Kampala Betty Amongi, these arcades have been the result of rapid transmission of COVID-19 in Kampala Metropolitan area which has become a hotspot for the pandemic, registering 15 deaths out of the 19 in the country.
It is against that background that the minister while addressing the press today at Uganda Media Centre revealed that at least 58 arcades in the city will be closed down in the next seven days following failure to adhere to Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic in Kampala.
“We have noticed that the arcades that we opened are now violating SOPs, as a result, 58 arcades will be closed for failure to adhere to sops in the light of COVID pandemic. We have given them seven days to comply or risk closure,” Amongi said.
Among arcades that will be closed include; Mini Price, Vienna Business Centre, Naiga Chambers, Masaka Jubilee, Afro Complex, Sena Arcade, SB Plaza, and King Fahad, Sun City, Lucky Complex, Nabukeera, Quallicell, Zainab Aziza, Majestic, Namaganda, Energy Centre, Nasser road printers among others.
She also gave members of the public a seven days’ ultimatum to be compliant or else a recommendation will be sent to the president proposing a lockdown.
“If we do not obtain cooperation from the public, we shall make recommendations to the president on what is the way forward. Kampala is the sitting room for Uganda, if we see that the sitting room is going to endanger the bedrooms, we shall ask that the sitting room be closed to safeguard the bedrooms. It is up to us to avoid the lockdown,” she said.
She cautioned private hospitals to take COVID seriously as well as patients who visit the hospitals.
“Private hospitals, many are not taking COVID as a priority and we are registering deaths and while someone is being buried, we discover they had COVID. This is because these patients visit the hospitals normally and when there they are received as normal patients, only to end up infecting medical personnel and other patients. We need to be vigilant,” she said.
Minister Amongi’s communication comes at a time when President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni last night while addressing the nation after NRM CEC elections said he will be making his official address on COVID-19 next week.