The Parliament of Uganda has announced that the August House has been closed down for two weeks following surging cases of Covid-19 in the country.
“This notice will take effect from Monday 28th June 2021 to Sunday 11th July 2021. Members are advised to adhere to this instruction,” the memo issued by the acting Clerk to Parliament Henry Waiswa Yoweri reads in part.
“As a mitigating measure in the prevention of the Covid-19 infection, the administration of Parliament in consultation with the office of the Speaker is closing Parliament to Honorable Members of Parliament for a period of two weeks in order to disinfect the Parliamentary building,” the memo adds.
This letter comes hot on the heels of reports that close to 100 staff including MPs are battling the novel coronavirus.
Last week, Parliament’s Director of Communications Chris Obore was forced to issue a statement after reports indicated a rise in COVID-19 infections at Parliament.
Some MPs were not able to attend their inauguration as Ministers after testing positive for COVID-19.
Obore maintained that these cases were detected by random tests carried out prior to the State of Nation Address (SONA) and Budget Reading events which were held on June 4 and June 10, 2021.
“Over 3,000 people that included MPs, staff of Parliament, Police, ISO, SFC, Service Providers, Journalists, Prisons staff and invited guests were tested for COVID-19,” he elaborated.
“Out of all those tested for the events, approximately 100 came out positive. Note that Parliament has 529MPs (approximately 30 Parliament staff were manning the events,” he added.
As such, Obore refuted rumors that other cases have been detected since then.
However following Speaker Jacob Oulanyah’s conspicuous absence from last week’s Ministers vetting exercise, Obore yet again found himself on the defensive.
Responding to a June 22, 2021 local media article, Obore refuted allegations that the Omoro MP was gravely ill, saying he is only bonding with his family following a heated campaign.
“Following a year of intense political campaigns keeping the RT Hon Speaker away from months, he is making sometime to be with his family,” he weighed in.
” This has been enabled by the new schedule of work at Parliament where the Rt Hon Speaker and Rt Hon Deputy Speaker take turns to conduct house business,” Obore further stated.
Parliament has since scaled down physical presence of MPs, Staff and Journalists to ten percent.
Results of COVID-19 tests done on 20 June 2021 confirmed 722 new cases.
The cumulative confirmed cases are 73,401. 34 new deaths were registered on June 20, bringing to 714 the total death toll since the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020.