UGANDA – Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Friday tightened restrictions in the country following a worrying rise in Covid-19 infections and deaths.

The country recorded 42 Covid-related deaths and 1,000 new infections, having the Ugandan leader vow to “stop the joke” of the public violating the public health guidelines, known locally as the Standard Operating Procedures [SOP].

Movement of public and private transport vehicles has been put on hold with only security, emergency and other essential service providers, including the police, firefighters and the military being exempted.

The new move tightened restrictions imposed a week ago, when cross-district travel was banned, schools closed and other public gatherings restricted yet the deaths continued to rise.

At the Mulago National Referral Hospital in the capital Kampala, a ‘technical fault’ on Wednesday cut off oxygen supply to Covid-19 patients at the facility, leading to the death of several patients.

The new highest death toll would arrive two days later when the country reported 42 deaths, raising the number of those killed by the virus to more than 400.

The country had been operating under a tight set of restrictions, including a curfew that starts at 9pm to 5am, compulsory wearing of masks and social distance in public places.

The Ugandan leader lampooned schools and other learning institutions which he accused of sitting on evidence of possible infections in schools.

He had said the same thing last week when he ordered schools closed. They will remain shut for the next 42 days.

It is observed that some sections of the public are not adhering to the curfew hours. As such, curfew throughout the country is pulled back to 7pm to 5.30am,” he said.

The new move means Uganda, initially seen as winning the war on Covid-19 and reporting fewer cases compared to neighboring Kenya, is now paying after its citizens dropped their guard.

WHO reported that Uganda was among three other African nations reporting highest levels of new weekly cases since the pandemic began.

Uganda has begun the distribution of the third batch of the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccines it received from the global COVAX facility to address the nationwide stockouts, a health spokesperson said.

The country received 175,200 new COVID-19 vaccines with support from United Nations Children’s Fund and French Embassy under the World Health Organization (WHO) COVAX initiative.

Uganda received 864,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine via the COVAX facility and 100,000 doses from the Indian government in March.

At least 688,000 more doses are expected from the COVAX facility in early August and 300,000 doses of China’s Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines next month, according to the ministry of health.

So far, a total of 812,118 people had been vaccinated against COVID-19 in the east African country, according to the ministry of health.

The country requires at least 45 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to get its population vaccinated and extra doses to cater for the refugee population in the country, according to the government statistics.