All Resident City Commissioners (RCCs) and Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) have been ordered to carry out media sensitisation about COVID-19 and to inspect all public places in their areas to enforce all Standard Operating Procedures(SOPs).
The directive, from the office of the president, follows a rise in COVID-19 cases in the country.
Records from the health ministry show that over 5,400 cases of COVID-19 were reported between December 20 and December 26, 2021, yet still, modelling by the National Planning Authority indicates that more than 8,000 new infections of the disease would have been reported in the next two weeks.
The spike in infections is being linked to the new Omicron COVID-19 variant that is believed to be more infectious than other variants.
Although, preliminary evidence from several studies suggests that Omicron is causing milder illness compared to other variants, like Delta, its ability to transmit easily has resulted in a flood of new patients heading into the hospital for treatment.
As a means to curb the spread of the disease, the minister in charge of the presidency, Milly Babirye Babaland, has ordered all RCCs and RDCs plus their deputies to come up and take action to stop the disease from spreading further.
“Following the escalation in a number of COVID-19 Omicron cases you are hereby directed to undertake massive Radio sensitizations and to inspect public places to ensure that SOPs are being observed,” the statement reads.
In a national address last week, the minister of health Dr Jane Ruth Aceng cautioned the public to remain vigilant and to adhere to SOPs during the festive season as a means to curb the spread of the disease.
The directive comes a few days to President Yoweri Museveni’s COVID-19 national address that is expected to lift the 21-month lockdown that was first instituted in March 2020 as a means to forestall the spread of COVID-19.
While some sectors of the country have been opened before like schools and public transport, others like bars, discotheques and cinemas have remained closed for the entire duration.
Meanwhile, Dr Mike Ryan, the Executive Director of WHO’s Health emergencies programme is worried about labelling Omicron as milder right now in anticipation of how it will impact older populations. He said that Omicron has been spreading in younger populations, which generally have a stronger immune response.
“It looks more transmissible, it looks like it has a shorter incubation period, it looks like it’s causing a milder disease, and that’s on the face of it, looking at the population it’s infecting,” he said.
“What we haven’t seen is the Omicron wave fully established in the broader population, and I’m a little nervous to make positive predictions until we see how well vaccine protection is going to work in those older and more vulnerable populations, to see whether previous infection or vaccination is going to provide the same levels of protection against severe disease and hospitalizations.”