President directs on coronavirus, locust invasion as government discusses contingency plans

Wednesday 5th February 2020 | PPU

President Yoweri Museveni has directed the Ministry of Health to conduct an aggressive public awareness campaign as one of the measures of preventing and controlling the outbreak of Coronavirus.

“I now understand this disease. I’m going to write about it so that the public is sensitized on how to prevent it” he said.

President Museveni was meeting government officials to discuss contingency measures and Uganda's preparedness to prevent coronavirus that is currently ravaging China and is spreading to other countries. They also discussed the impeding locust invasion threat that is currently ravaging the neighbouring Kenya.

According to the World Health Organisation, At least 427 people have died with more than 20,000 confirmed cases around the world, most of them in China.

More than two-dozen nations have reported cases but, so far, no confirmations have been made across Africa or Latin America.

The deadly coronavirus outbreak that has spread from China causes severe acute respiratory infection and symptoms usually start with a fever, followed by a dry cough.

WHO is working closely with global experts, governments and partners to rapidly expand scientific knowledge on this new virus, to track the spread and virulence of the virus, and to provide advice to countries and individuals on measures to protect health and prevent the spread of this outbreak.

During the meeting that took place at State House Entebbe and was attended by among others Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, the Minister of Health Dr. Ruth Achieng, the Minister for Agriculture Vincent Ssempijja and their respective technical teams, the President was briefed about the contingency plans by both ministries to respond to the impending health and food security threats.

On the Coronavirus, the Prime Minister informed the President that the Health Ministry working with its partners were already implementing preparedness activities, like screening of all travellers at Entebbe International Airport and doing risk Communication for public awareness for the general population.

Among the measures discuss to contain the virus include anti inflammatory vaccine to reduce the body panic, antiviral, antibiotics, rehydration and increase of oxygen in the body as well as preventive measures such as washing of hands with soap and use of masks to prevent the spread of the disease.

Present Museveni also instructed the Ministry of Health to come up with a public awareness document that can be used to engage and educate the public.

He further advised that Ugandans currently in China should remain there since the government of China has already put mechanisms to contain and prevent the transmission of the disease.

On the desert locusts, the President gave an ultimatum to the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that they have ready actionable points to prevent the locusts from causing havoc.

He tasked the Ministry of Agriculture to liaise with the Ministry of Finance to ensure that Uganda makes its contribution to Regional Desert Locust Control body.

President Museveni also pledged to mobilize resources and bodies responsible for the control to ensure more support to the Ariel spraying of Locusts using aircraft.

According to reports swarms of locusts have destroyed large areas of farmland and are threatening food security in East Africa. Kenya is reporting its worst locust outbreak in 70 years. Billions of the insects have already destroyed tens of thousands of hectares of plant life across the country. Record locust outbreaks have also been reported in Ethiopia and Somalia. The insects have also attacked parts of Sudan, Djibouti and Eritrea. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, or FAO, is calling it East Africa’s worst desert locust invasion in 25 years.