By Patience Ahimbisibwe
President Museveni has said the government will open up the remaining closed economies after vaccinating at least 80 per cent of the vulnerable groups.
He said his scientists have confirmed new coronavirus variants from South Africa, United Kingdom, and Nigeria, which, they say are more dangerous than the first reported virus in the country.
He said some of the Covid-19 preventive measures like closure of bars and curfew, which government introduced at the onset of the pandemic, will remain in force.
Mr Museveni said the samples Ministry of Health collected between end of February and March 10 have shown presence of severe newer variants known as B1525, B351 and A231, which are more transmissible and don’t present initial signs of cough and loss of smell as in the first variant.
“That means Uganda is becoming a centre of all these different clans of viruses. Health ministry says they don’t know how this variant behaves in humans…the variants present no warning signs of cough and loss of smell with rapid progression to respiratory failure,” President Museveni said in a televised address from Kyankwanzi on Friday night.
He added: “Bars, discos… shall remain closed until the country attains a threshold of vaccination of over 80 per cent of the 3.5 million elderly. We want two million people below 50 years but with underlying conditions like blood pressure, diabetes and asthma to be vaccinated before we can say we are safe. While there is no timeline to this, government is working hard to bring another five million doses of Astrazeneca vaccine before end of May.”
Mr Museveni said only 200, 000 people have been vaccinated out of an estimated 5.5 million that are to benefit in the first phase.
Mr Museveni pointed out that out of 41, 204 reported Covid-19 infections in the country, 40,779 have recovered with 24 cases currently hospitalised.
He said only 10 per cent of the beds they prepared for the pandemic have so far been used.
The President added that Uganda’s scientists have already made good progress on therapeutics to treat Covid-19 with trials on more than a dozen patients reported successful.
However, for this success to be internationally recognised, he said they require to have healed at least 125 people.
But the trials, Mr Museveni added, are being limited because of fewer Covid-19 cases in the country.
On locally made vaccine, Mr Museveni said there was good progress with trails on animals expected to be done in June before it can be tested on human beings in August.
He said producing locally made vaccines is important for the country’s strategic security.
Although the President said the National Resistance Movement party’s current meeting at Kyankwanzi with newly-elected Members of Parliament involved more than 300 people, which is more than the 200 maximum prescribed by the Ministry of Health, they had observed Covid-19 guidelines through testing and quarantine before they could gather.