KAMPALA, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) — Ugandan President on Thursday appointed a committee to enforce the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions as infections and deaths surge in the east African country.

Ruth Aceng, minister of health, in a televised address, said the committee chaired by a senior military officer will support the enforcement of all presidential directives and health ministry Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

“The president and chair of the national taskforce, having observed the poor compliance to his directives and ministry of health SOPs meant to guide us and help prevent infections has appointed a multi-sectoral technical taskforce to coordinate all sectors, institutions and organizations,” said Aceng, noting that the committee is headed by Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Muheesi.

The committee is composed of members from the ministry of health, universities, police and military.

The minister said the team will among others support nationwide distribution of face masks and enforce their proper usage in the community.

“This taskforce will not duplicate efforts and interventions done by the ministry of health,” said Aceng.

The appointment of the committee comes at a time when the country is registering an increasing number of COVID-19 cases. The country as of Aug. 13, has registered 1,353 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 1,141 recoveries and 11 deaths since March 21 when the index cases was recorded, according to ministry of health figures.

President Museveni has several times warned that the country will register a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases if the public does not take precautionary measures.

He said people who doubted that COVID-19 does not kill, the country has now started registering deaths.

Government made wearing of face masks mandatory when in public but according to the ministry of health, many people are not wearing them.

Social distancing is also a challenge as crowds still gather especially in the shopping areas in the capital Kampala.

Minister Aceng said as the country starts a political season in preparations for next year’s general elections, politicians should exercise caution and not gather crowds.

Aceng said some politicians continue to flout health ministry guidelines by gathering large crowds.

Government has also urged the public to exercise patience on the reopening of schools and places of worship.

Museveni on Thursday said an advisory committee on the coronavirus is making final studies on the situation and a decision would be taken soon.

“The opening of schools and churches is being examined by scientists. They will advise and we will take a decision,” said Museveni in an address to update the country on the progress in the fight against COVID-19 from the eastern district of Jinja.

The president in July said government would make a final decision on whether to reopen schools or not in September.

He said as the government continues to study the situation, alternative and distance learning through radio and television are being considered, with the government releasing funds to purchase a radio set for each of the 9 million families in the country.

The Ugandan government in March closed schools, tertiary institutions, universities and places of worship in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19. Enditem

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