Gov't Sets New Rules to Guide COVID-19 Fight

The new law makes it a crime to escape from quarantine facilities. Once found guilty, persons can serve two months imprisonment
25 Mar 2020 19:32
The government has set the Public Health Control of COVID- 19 Rules 2020. The rules are part of the Public Health Act.

The rules are supposed to govern the management of COVID 19 cases. It also gives the ministry of health power to regulate activities of infected areas. It also gives health officials power to forcefully quarantine persons that are suspected or confirmed of having COVID- 19. The rules will be applicable until the minister of health says they no longer need to be followed.

The law comes after lawyer Male Mabirizi last week filed a suit to nullify President Yoweri Museveni's March 18, 2020 COVID- 19 directive that led to the closure of schools, bars and clubs. According to Mabirizi, the President's directive was a statement that was not backed by any law or statutory instrument.

According to the law, employers, heads of households, landlords and local authorities are mandated to report any person confirmed of having COVID- 19 to a medical health worker.

All medical workers who come across patients suffering from COVID- 19 are mandated to immediately refer the patient to regional referral hospitals for treatment and management.

In case a patient died or succumbs to COVID- 19, medical officers will inform the deceased's family or caretaker of the disease's infectious nature. Health officers will also be responsible for educating the deceased's family on necessary precautions to be taken to prevent transmission to other persons.

Medical officers of health appointed by the health ministry in different areas will have authority to quarantine all person believed to have come into contact with a confirmed case. They also have the authority to make contacts to health facilities for testing to take place.

The law also gives power to medical officers of inspectors to enter any premises to search for any COVID- 19 case and put them into quarantine if deemed necessary.

People who escape from quarantine or those who assist them or help them smuggle things into isolation or quarantine facility commits a crime is liable to two months imprisonment upon conviction.

Any building or premises that are contaminated or suspected to be contaminated with COVID 19 will undergo decontamination under the supervision of a medical officer of health.

According to the law, bodies of deceased persons shall be disposed of according to directions issued by medical officers.

All public gatherings as directed by the President are banned. Bars, cinema halls, places of worship, weddings, public meeting, vigils and burials should not take place until April 18, 2020.

Schools should remain closed until April 16, 2020. Persons who ignore this directive will commit an offence and upon conviction will be liable to imprisonment for two months.

The law comes at a time when Uganda's COVID  19 cases seem to be on a rise. Today, the number of confirmed cases rose from 9 to 14. On the African continent, more than 1,300 cases of the disease have been reported. Globally, the number stands at over 320,000 people.