KAMPALA (Reuters) - Uganda began to loosen one of Africa’s strictest anti-coronavirus lockdowns on Tuesday after President Yoweri Museveni declared the infection “tamed.”
The country of 42 million reported 97 confirmed cases and no deaths in 45 days of restrictions, and Museveni said it was now better equipped to trace and detect new infections faster.
“We have somehow tamed the virus,” Museveni said in a televised address late on Monday.
“It is high time we ... start slowly and carefully to open up, but without undoing our achievements.”
Uganda, alongside neighbouring Rwanda, had some of Africa’s strictest lockdown measures, including the shuttering of all but absolutely essential businesses, dusk-to-dawn curfews, and bans on both private and public transport vehicles.
Businesses including hardware shops, restaurants, wholesale stores and others will now be allowed to reopen.
Public transport and most private vehicles would still remain prohibited, however - meaning that workers for reopened businesses will have to commute either by bicycle or on foot.
Schools and international borders were to remain shut, Museveni said.
After a 14-day period, he said, authorities will announce the next level of reopening.
COVID-19 infections and fatalities reported across Africa have been relatively low compared with the United States, parts of Asia and Europe. However, Africa also has extremely low levels of testing, with rates of only around 500 per million people.
Reporting by Elias Biryabarema, Editing by Ayenat Mersie, William Maclean