Skip to main content
KBS_Icon_questionmark link-ico



A glimpse into how COVID-19 is impacting Uganda

Rebecca Kyomugisha & Dave Ndyanabo

21 April 2020


On the 22nd March 2020, a man travelling back from a 4-day business meeting in Dubai UAE was detained for further testing at Entebbe international airport, Uganda. During routine screening his body temperature was detected to be above the 37.8 degrees. A few hours later he was confirmed to be the first recorded case of COVID 19 in Uganda. Since then, all the passengers travelling from the UAE were called back for testing and several community tracking measures are currently on going. The recorded cases have since risen to 54, 4 with 4 recoveries and no deaths. 


Uganda, as a nation has had previous experience in dealing with epidemics first with HIV and Aids in the 1990’s and more recently Ebola. With both scourges, it has been able to succeed in fighting off mass destruction by timely interventions and an open information sharing policy.

With the new Covid 19 interventions, our previous experience has helped the health ministry briskly jump in to quarantine and contain likely trouble spots first by the closing of borders and mandatory isolation measuresbord, and then by the country lockdown that was enforced a fortnight ago. This has seen our numbers of infection being kept low with no deaths being recorded. This is in contrast with some of our neighbors like Kenya that seem to be on the back foot with numbers growing exponentially.

Austerity measures like the supply of foodstuffs like grain and beans to the most vulnerable groups have also been introduced. Though it remains to be seen if this exercise will be successful with many gaps already being highlighted. Misappropriation remains a major concern in the country with senior line ministry officials recently being apprehended for diverting much needed supplies to their homes.

Borders would remain open only to cargo vehicles and their accompanying driver and tan boy. (Not more than 3 people per vehicle).

Uganda has declared a lockdown for an initial 21 days subject to review and has initiated a curfew every evening at 7:00pm.

These measures are not affecting people equally. The women who sell their goods in the market are forced to spend the night in the market so as to not be caught outside during curfew time. During curfew, a local police force referred to as the Local Defense Unit is deployed to enforce the curfew. They are armed with sticks and canes and punish offenders with beating to deter further offense. 


Showing an unidentified military officer enforcing the new government guidelines using force. This woman was later tracked down by citizens who were outraged by the image of a woman being beaten and resources were pooled to support her and others as their incomes were clearly at risk. 


H E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni released an exercise video demonstrating to Ugandan’s how they can achieve physical fitness indoors and encouraged them to avoid meeting in groups to work out outdoors.

Views and opinions expressed in this article are entirely our own.


Rebecca Kyomugisha a postgraduate student at  Kings College London & LSHTM & Dave Ndyanabo Writer, Social Critic and Blogger in Uganda.