The Minister of Health has invoked powers under the Public Health Act, (Cap. 281) to issue rules and orders aimed at combating Covid-19 in Uganda as below:
The Public Health (Notification of COVID-19) Order, 2020
Under this Order, Covid-19 is declared a notifiable disease to which the provisions on prevention and suppression of infectious diseases under the Public Health Act (Cap. 281) apply. This includes the Minister of Health's power to:
- make rules for control of the spread of the disease;
- order for the quarantine of infected persons or those suspected to be infected;
- inspect premises of persons believed to be infected with the disease; and
- disinfect premises and buildings which have been covered under the rules and orders detailed above.
The Public Health (Prohibition of Entry into Uganda) Order, 2020
The Order prohibits the entry of any person, animal or article into Uganda through any of its borders except vehicles or aircrafts entering for the conveyance of cargo into the country and those of the United Nations Organisation or other humanitarian organisation with effect from 23 March 2020 to 23 April 2020.
The Public Health (Prevention of COVID-19) (Requirements and Conditions of Entry into Uganda) Order, 2020
This Order stipulates conditions for entry into Uganda which include:
- mandatory examination of all persons entering Uganda for Covid-19;
- mandatory isolation at a designated place of persons found to be suffering from the Covid-19 and are transiting through Uganda or entering Uganda without the authority of an immigration officer for the specified isolation period, after which they shall be removed from Uganda at their own expense;
- categorisation of all persons entering into Uganda based on their countries of departure and transit as follows:
- Category 1, who will be subject to quarantine at a place designated by the Minister of Health for 14 days or longer as may be determined by a medical officer of health;
- Category 2, who will be observed by a medical officer of health for 14 days or longer as may be determined by a medical officer of health;
- Category 3, who will be advised by a medical officer of health on the measures to take to avoid being infected with Covid-19.
- provision for the decontamination of any vehicle, aircraft or vessel with clinical signs of contamination with Covid-19 or where a medical officer of health has information of such contamination;
- creation of offences for failure to comply with the Order including, obstruction of a medical officer for health in the conduct of their duties, failure or refusal to give information required by a medical officer and giving false information which will attract a penalty of imprisonment of up to three months on conviction.
- offences imposed on operators of vehicles, aircraft or vessels for failure to assist medical officers as required, make any false statements or knowingly give false answers to any question and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a period not exceeding twelve months.
The Order will remain in force until notification of its expiry by the Minister of Health. Although there is currently a ban on entry into Uganda, the restrictions may continue to apply after 23 April 2020 when the ban is lifted.
The Public Health (Control of COVID-19) Rules, 2020
The Rules impose measures for the control and prevention of Covid-19 as follows:
- imposition of restrictions on public gatherings and direction of the closure of certain premises, events and activities as below, failure of which will lead to imprisonment of up to two months on conviction:
- schools and institutions of higher learning closed until 18 April 2020;
- bars and cinema halls closed until 16 April 2020;
- prayers in churches and mosques and open-air prayers closed until 16 April 2020;
- marriage ceremonies, vigils and funerals closed until 18 April 2020, except if attended by not more than 10 people;
- all public meetings, including political rallies, closed until 18 April 2020;
- concerts and sports events closed until 16 April 2020; and
- trading of live animals at places designated by local authorities closed until 18 April 2020.
- place an obligation on every owner, person in charge of, or occupier of premises, and every employer, head of a household and local authority who becomes aware of a person suffering from Covid-19 within their premises or area, to immediately notify a medical officer or take that person to a medical officer for treatment;
- empower the Minister of Health to declare a place as an infected area and regulate the activities that may be conducted in the infected area and where any person from a declared infected area is placed under observation or surveillance, the period of observation or surveillance will be 28 days;
- require a medical officer to refer Covid-19 patients to the nearest regional referral hospital;
- empower a medical officer of health to visit and inspect any premises where any Covid-19 patient referred to a regional referral hospital resides and may direct all persons who have been in contact with the person to remain on the premises where the person was at the time of infection or cause those persons to be removed to a regional referral hospital or other suitable place for quarantine;
- empower a medical officer or any health inspector, or other person acting on the written instructions of a medical officer, to enter any premises to search for any case of Covid-19;
- empower a medical officer of health to enter and disinfect premises with clinical signs of contamination with Covid-19;
- disposal of bodies of persons who die from the Covid-19virus to be done in conformity with the directions of the medical officers of health;
- prohibition on spitting in public;
- creates the offence of escaping or aiding and abetting an escape from a place of isolation or designated for quarantine punishable by two months imprisonment; and
- mandatory testing of asymptomatic persons believed on reasonable grounds to be harbouring the infection. These such persons may be directed to go into quarantine and to notify the local authority and medical officer in case they wish to change their place of residence seven days before the change.
The above statutory instruments are aimed at prevention and control of the spread of Covid-19 in Uganda and if properly implemented and enforced by the Ministry of Health, may mitigate the dangers of the virus in Uganda.
Covid-19, also known as the Coronavirus, is an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) that was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on 11 March 2020. The disease has since been reported in over 190 countries.
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