Italina company donates respirators to UPDF to fight COVID-19

By Sania Babirye

Treatment of COVID-19 patients has been boosted after an Italian company donated respirators to the UPDF to fight the pandemic.

The Chief of Defence Forces General David Muhoozi received two portable respirators for the treatment of COVID-19 at Bombo Military Hospital and State House Military Hospital.

The machines were donated by Leonardo Company through the Italian Embassy in Uganda.

The Italian Ambassador Massimiliano Mazzarati lauded the selfless service the UPDF soldiers have offered within Uganda and the peacekeeping efforts within the region.

He cited the AMISOM peacekeeping mission in Somalia where the UPDF has been pivotal in restoring peace in the once ravaged country in the horn of Africa. Somalia has been at war with militants including the notorious Al-shabaab.

“We thought of something more concrete to cement our friendship with the UPDF and the best way to express this appreciation is in terms of donating these two respirators especially during these times of COVID-19” said Ambassador Mazzarati.

In his remarks the CDF thanked the Italian ambassador Mazzarati for having chosen to support UPDF in the fight against COVID-19, with the respirators that are one of a kind in Uganda.

He expressed appreciation to Leonardo Company for maintaining their longstanding relationship with UPDF.

The ceremony was held at the ministry of Defence headquarters in Mbuya, a suburb of Kampala and was attended by Senior military commanders of the UPDF Marines, the Air Force , a delegation from the Italian embassy and Leonardo company.

German government donates two ventilator machines to Uganda

By Gloria Nakiyimba

The German government through Malteser International a worldwide relief agency has donated two ventilator machines worth more than 300 million shillings to boost Uganda’s fight against COVID-19.

One ventilator has been handed over by the German Ambassador to Uganda Mathius Schauer to Dr. Andrew Ssekitooleko the Executive director for Lubaga hospital.

A second ventilator has been given to Mulago hospital which was represented by Dr. Annet Alenyo at a function that was held at Lubaga hospital on Monday.

Dr. Ssekitooleko says the ventilator will improve the hospital’s capacity in treating COVID-19 patients in severe condition.

“The challenge for us arose when some patients presented with severe symptoms. Some of them needed ventilators or some sort of high level support. And yet we could not admit them to our ICU, because when we do that we’d close our ICU. So we reached out to our partners Malteser who came back to us with the positive news of a donation of a ventilator” said Dr.Ssekitooleko.

German Ambassador H.E Shauer says the ventilators will strengthen the hospital’s role as one the cornerstones in Uganda’s COVID response team.

“Malteser has trained staff on how to effectively contain the virus, and has helped implement the screening and sorting system which is essential to prevent hospital infection among risk groups and staff” said ambassador Shauer.

According to Dr. Ssekitooleko, the other challenge was in-transfer of patients, where the patients needed to be transferred to Mulago and other government designated isolation centres but lacked ventilators for the ambulance.

Malteser International in the past donated Personal Protection Equipment-PPE to Lubaga hospital and helped to set up a COVID-19 unit in the hospital which Dr. Ssekitooleko says has gone a long way in containing the disease.

The ventilator will also be used to support the training of emergency care and staff too.

“Our hospital is a training center for EMS so this ventilator is given to support our training program” he said.

Seven months ago Uganda registered the first COVID-19 first case, and today the number of confirmed cases in the country has since passed the mark of 10,000.

Education and health ministers sued over phased school reopening

By Sania Babirye

The first lady Janet Kataha Museveni has been sued in the high court in her capacity as minister of education and sports over the reopening of schools for candidate classes due 15th of this month.

Mrs Museveni together with the health minister Jane Ruth Acheng by the Executive Director of Human Rights Defenders Association Uganda (HURIDA -Ug) Tugume Gideon.

Tugume wants court to issue an order blocking the reopening of schools until government pays school fees and requirements for all finalists at all levels of education.

In documents filed in the high court, the petitioner, further asks court to compel the ministry of health take responsibility for any disease related to COVID-19 if any student is affected before reopening the Schools.

He claims that by the time government closed schools in March this year, the country had not registered any COVID-19 positive cases yet since the the country is crippling with a over 9000 COVID-19 positive cases with death and that reopening schools now is poor planning, illegal and discriminatory since most parents businesses such as bars, open markets, events , music, health clubs among others which are their main source of employment are still not yet opened which is likely to make many candidates miss out school.

The petitioner also claims that they tried to engage the two ministers but in vain forcing them to seek legal redress and that reopening of some schools with such a big number of children is against COVID-19 ministerial guidelines issued to the public and likely to put school going children exposed to COVID-19.

These want Court to compel government to financially support parents affected by COVID-19 lock down by paying school fees , registration fees and requirements for all students in both private and government institutions.

The two ministers have been summoned to file their defenses within 15 days before the case is set for hearing by court..

Fourth Tourism Board charged with fast tracking post COVID-19 recovery

By Edwin Muhumuza

The Uganda Tourism Board has pledged to embark on branding the entry and exit of Entebbe Airport among other activities in an aggressive drive to revive the country’s tourism sector in its post COVID-19 recovery plan.

This is according to the Chairman of the Board, Daudi Migereko who made the remarks during the inauguration of the 4th Board of Directors whose terms of office have been renewed by cabinet.

Chief Guest Colonel (Retired) Tom Butime said that the task ahead of the board now is to ensure they lead fast tracking the sector recovery from the impacts of COVID-19.

“The pandemic has more or less leveled the ground for competition and it is now our duty to claim our due share of the market as all destinations struggle to rebuild themselves from COVID-19 pandemic.” Butime noted.

“We must with no further delay brand destination Uganda, there is no way we can position ourselves without branding the destination and every citizen must appreciate and promote the brand and in this way we shall turn all Ugandans into destination ambassadors,” he added.

The chief guest also agreed to plans to involve heads of cultural institutions in branding destination Uganda under category, traditional tourism to encourage, persuade and remind traditional leaders of their role in boosting the ‘Tulambule’ domestic tourism campaign.

“You can imagine the king of the Alur crossing the Nile as an event amidst the Agwang dance cultural tunes while in Fort Portal’. That has the same tune as ‘Amankondere traditional dance of the Tooro Kingdom.” said Butime.

On his part, Board Chairman Migereko, appealed to the government to increase the pace with which they tend to critical issues pertaining to the transformation of the country.

‘We must change because the world is not waiting for Uganda, we must render our sector competitive by investing in product development, sights improvement, so that when people come they are ready to spend time in Uganda albeit paying competitive rates, but that will not be possible if we take so long to make decisions.’

Uganda‘s tourism flourishes when other sectors of the economy are doing the same. Key to note is Uganda has been peaceful for the last thirty years courtesy of the Museveni-led NRM government and such the industry contributed 1.6 billion dollars to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product in 2018/19.

However the growth of the economy has seen new challenges in the transport sector more so the heavy traffic during rush hours, a trend that has put the government on the spot to expand roads as well as constructing alternative routes to the airport and to major tourist sites to the East, North, West and South.

In the wake of the resumption of tourism in the country the tourism board wants the Ministry of Works and the Uganda National Roads Authority to hasten the expansion and construction of the Mukono –Namanve-Kinawataka-Kampala while heavy trucks can be diverted to utilise the Nytil-Nyenga-Buikwe-Katosi-Mukono University road, in a bid to avoid inconveniencing tourists which would in turn affect the industry.

Concerns were also raised to government to rein in on commercial banks that have made it a habit to foreclose on businesses yet they are aware that the same companies were not making any money in the past six months due to the lock down. Stakeholders warned that a majority of tour businesses may be affected by this behavior of commercial banks.

Representing the United Nations Development Program(UNDP), Sheila Ngatia, the Deputy Resident Representative in charge of Programme and Operations in UNDP noted that the pandemic presents an opportunity to build better and it is important that the tourism board considers how to really implement the post COVID-19 tourism recovery plan to advance creative interventions to support businesses and to cater for critical operational expenses necessary to protect jobs, restore confidence among travelers as well as social protection of communities that benefit from tourism.

Kigezi residents advised to follow president’s directives on COVID-19

By Robert Ssegawa

The head of Community Policing Department in the Uganda Police Force, ACP Anatoli Muleterwa has called upon Local authorities in Kigezi region to work hand in hand with the security agencies to fight the spread of COVID-19 along border lines.

Muleterwa made the call while meeting with the local leaders and heads of security at the border lines of Bunagana, Cyanika, Katuna and Mirama hills Kikagati,and Mutukula respectively.

Muleterwa says the only way to prevent COVID-19 and enforcement of presidential directives can only be effective by mobilizing the community and their leaders, by mobilizing the communities and sensitizing them on issues of how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, step up vigilance, alertness on borders and patterning to fight other general crimes and ensure there community support, as you are aware the nature of the borders along these areas being porous in nature.

Ministry of health sets new guidelines for churches

By Deo Wasswa

Ministry of health says, churches will be subjected to limited number of attendants during church services once the president announces the reopening of places of worship as one of major guideline to avoid the spread of Corona virus.

According to Richard Okwi, head of social behavior change department and communications officer in charge of public health emergency at ministry of health, each service will comprise of 100 members, hence encouraging churches to consider conducting multiple services to cater for demand.

He made the remarks while facilitating a team of clergies under the Christian ecumenical council of Uganda on standard operating procedures that churches must undergo to avoid spreading of COVID-19 once they resume.

According to him, church programs will also not remain the same as overnights will be prohibited in order to comply with curfew guideline.

He adds that so far the ministry of health has met churches under inter religious council of Uganda, the Adventist, the Christian ecumenical council of Uganda and they yet to meet Muslim fraternity while training clergies on maters concerning with COVID-19 prevention and management.

One Saturday 19, September President Museveni will be addressing the nation on maters to do with COVID-19.

Police headquarters closed over positive cases

By Robert Segawa

The inspector general of police Martin Okoth Ochola has temporarily closed police headquarters Naguru for three days to give way for decontamination .

This comes after top police officers currently under quarantine in Entebbe hospital and Jinja after testing positive of COVID-19.

According to police spokesman Fred Enanga, this was agreed upon to prevent Corona virus spread among police officers.

Enanga says that after fumigation they will also install disinfection booth at the headquarters to stop spread of deadly virus infection.

He further adds that all police stuffs in Jinja are undergoing testing to establish the extent of exposure to the virus as ministry of health team are working hard to trace the contracts to confirmed cases.

The LDUs are back but only for night duty

By Sania Babirye

The army has reinstated all local defense units who have completed their refresher training to resume operations only at night in support of the Uganda police to curtail criminal activities.

In a statement released by the newly appointed UPDF spokesperson brigadier general Flavia Byekwaso, the reinstatement follows an outcry by local leaders and the general public about the increased criminality especially in the night due to the withdraw if LDUs.

The statement says that these petitioned security leaders to have the LDUs back to curtail criminals.

The statement further says, the LDUs will Participate in intelligence led limited operations as requested by police. They will however not participate in any daytime enforcement of COVID-19 directives as listed by ministry of health and president Museveni.

General Byekwaso has called upon the public to cooperate with the forces to ensure security for all Ugandans.

Four sent to jail over Tegu’s death

By Sania Babirye

A task team actively investigating the murder of Tegu Emmanuel, 24 year old, male University student of Makerere, on the Wednesday, charged four suspects at LDC court for his brutal murder. The deceased was violently beaten on the 27.06.2020, and sustained life threatening injuries, which he eventually succumbed to on the 3.07.2020 at Mulago Hospital, Kiruddu.

The four suspects include; Oigu Charles; a 34 year old Area Councilor; Nyeko Balam, a 33 year old security guard; Kakuru Johnson, a 24 year old resident of Makerere and Sekitoleko Moses, a 21 year old resident of Makerere.

Their actions were supported by the postmortem report which revealed the cause of death as blunt force trauma, due to open wounds along the back, multiple cane marks on the back of the right elbow and abrasions along the abdomen and the entire back of the victim.

The prevailing facts indicate that on 27.06.2020, the victim left his sister Rachael Ariongeti’s home, at Namungoona where he also stayed with his brother Sam Okwalinga, and proceeded to his church at Makerere.

He did not return home, but in the evening at around 10pm, he was found by PC Mukose Farouk who was on routine patrol behind the main building near the water tank.

The officer attempted to inquire about who he was and what he was doing at such an ordinary hour, out in the cold.

He appeared erratic and responded by throwing stones at the officer, who fired three shots in the air to scare the victim but kept charging at him.

This forced the officer to withdraw and communicated to his supervisor.

The victim ran towards St Augustine church and Centenary bank, where he charged at the three private security guards but was overpowered.

They hit him using the metallic chairs from the visitor’s tent, and it’s at this stage that he cried out for help, which attracted about 10-15 residents from Zone 1 and West road quarters around Lumumba hall.

Among the respondents were a few youth who joined the private security guards and violently assaulted the victim, whom they suspected to be a thief.

It is after the intervention of the Chaplain, St Augustine Church Makerere that the private guards and the few charged residents stopped torturing the victim and alerted the police about him.

The police team responded and rushed the victim to Mulago National Referral Hospital.

The following day of 28.06.2020, he was traced at the hospital by his brother and discharged on 29.06.2020.

While at home, the victim’s condition started deteriorating and he was taken to Mild May Clinic, Sseguku on 30.06.2020, to his personal doctor, Dr Arinda Anita who was treating his bipolar condition since 2018. She referred them to a specialist at Rubaga Hospital, to check if there was a problem with his kidney, since he was not passing urine.

At Rubaga Hospital, he was further referred to Mulago National Referral Hospital, Kiruddu where he died on 3.07.2020.

The task team has established that about three private security guards of SGA and seven others, who responded to the alarm, were behind the violent assault of the victim.

The scene was reconstructed and a few key pieces of evidence including CCTV footage from St Augustine Church, metallic chairs from the visitors’ tent at the banks which were used as a weapon against the victim, a wire rod and relevant witness statements recorded.

We would like to inform the public that the investigations are still open and we have clues about three more suspects who are still at large.

It is very helpful if we avoid speculation and instead avail evidence that is crucial to the matter under inquiry.

We would like to extend our thoughts and prayers to our officer, SGT Okwalinga, the father to the victim, and all family, friends and relatives.

We are also devastated by the senseless murder of a son who had a dream, of working in the veterinary field.

He was an evangelist who was compassionate and always helping out. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

COVID task forces to help distribute mosquito nets

By Daudi Zirimala

The Government of Uganda is set to distribute 27.5 million long lasting insecticide mosquito nets under the third Universal Coverage Campaign for the distribution of mosquito nets.

The campaign dubbed “Under the Net” is aimed at to increase access and ownership of nets in communities across the country.

According to state minister for Primary health Dr Joyce Moniriku ,the campaign is further expected to create a culture of net use and sustain the gains achieved by the previous campaigns which led to a reduction in the malaria prevalence and this will also be an opportunity to educate the population on mosquito net use, care, repair and re purposing.

The campaign will be digital and scientific heavily utilizing social media and other new media like blogs.

To further support the COVID fight, the mosquito net campaign sensitization will utilize COVID task forces at district and sub county levels and fund media space delivering integrated malaria and COVID messages.

Starting Friday 10th July, 2020, 25 districts will be covered under Wave I and these include: Alebtong, Amolatar, Budaka, Bududa, Bugiri, Bukwo, Bulambuli, Butaleja, Butebo, Dokolo, Kaberamaido, Kalaki, Kapchorwa, Kibuku, Kween, Lira Mbale,
Namisindwa, Namutumba, Otuke, Paliisa, Serere, Sironko, Soroti and Tororo.

A total of 4,371,259 nets will be distributed protecting 7,484,520 people against Malaria in the districts