Trade Minister, Amelia Kyambadde has warned against the reported cases of harassment against foreign nationals who are being targeted as carriers of COVID-19.
The Minister’s warning follows negative sentiments within the public towards some foreigners who have recently arrived in the country after the Ministry of Health appealed to some travelers to avail themselves for testing (for COVID-19).
“Government has received information on the harassment of both foreign nationals and Uganda Business people who have recently come from abroad on suspicion of having COVID-19,” Kyambadde said during a news conference in Kampala on Thursday.
While she appreciated the public for vigilance, the Minister said these issues must be handled in accordance with the law and Ministry of Health guidelines.
“Harassment of foreign business persons merely on account of suspicion that they are COVID-19 positive because they come from a high risk country must stop forthwith”.
She said that security agencies will ensure that no such harassment takes place.
Any suspicious cases, whether foreigners or local, should voluntarily report to the Ministry of Health or be reported to the Ministry for professional management, she said.
“In any case, returning foreigners and nationals are being placed under quarantine in line with medical recommendations. This is for the good of both the suspected patient and the general public”.
The Minister used the news conference to acknowledge some of the concerns that have been raised by the public in the wake of measures by the government that have restricted gatherings, work (for many) and public transport.
The concerns include payment for utilities, deferring bank loans, tax cuts, and interruptions in the flow of imported goods.
“I will present all these issues to Government and shall communicate back the way forward,” the Minister said.
She said government is concerned about the increase cost especially water and is considering the review of the rates and supply system.
She urged the business community to continue providing protective gear, sanitizers and for all manufacturers of sanitizers to ensure that their products are certified by Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS).
“I have directed UNBS to fast-track the testing and Certification of these products. Manufacturers should apply on-line and UNBS will pick samples from their premises. It will take a maximum of seven days.
The Minister has also directed industries to de-congest through allowing their workers to work in shifts.
She also revealed that selling of cooked food on the streets has been suspended. On Thursday, Police officers and LDUs were seen confiscating items being sold by vendors in downtown Kampala.
Restaurants, supermarkets, arcades, boutiques and other shops outside food markets will continue to function as long as they observe the guidelines.
Regarding customs paralysis, Kyambadde said that the Ugandan government has negotiated with Kenya to address the congestion of trucks at Malaba and Busia entry points. Kenya has now cleared Ugandan trucks to enter their territory, she said.