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Uganda slowly begins easing virus restrictions

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Uganda on Tuesday began slowly easing coronavirus measures, allowing a number of businesses to re-open, even as its five-week lockdown was extended for another two weeks.

According to THE GUARDIAN, the capital Kampala appeared more lively than it has in recent weeks as food markets, wholesale shops, garages, workshops, law firms, and hardware shops were allowed to re-open.

Uganda had imposed one of the strictest and swiftest lockdowns in Africa, but has joined those like neighboring Rwanda is slowly easing the measures, after recording only 97 cases and no deaths.

“We must therefore slowly and carefully start opening up but without undoing our gains so far,” Museveni said in a televised national address announcing the new measures on Monday night.

He said that wearing of masks was now mandatory in public spaces, but few seemed to be following the new rule, an AFP correspondent noted.

Schools remain closed and public and private transport banned, although several private vehicles nevertheless ventured out in the capital on Tuesday.

Restaurants are allowed to operate but only to serve takeaways.

For many in the country, however, the easing of restrictions is not enough to tackle the economic hardship brought about by the lockdown.

“Without public transport, opening business here is good, but a far cry from what can help us go back to business”, said Alex Wairagala, 38, a trader in Kampala’s commercial hub of Kikuubo.

“We have opened the wholesale department but fewer customers are getting in and those who come have less money,” he added.

In East Africa, Uganda and Rwanda appear to have flattened the curve of new cases. Mauritius has remained steady at 332 cases for nine days but nevertheless decided to extend its lockdown until June 1.

Seychelles also this week relaxed confinement measures after remaining steady at 11 cases for a month.

However, in Kenya — where authorities only imposed a nighttime curfew — Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe on Tuesday castigated citizens for failing to take containment measures seriously, as a record 45 people tested positive in a day.

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