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Mandatory COVID Tests for Presidential Meetings Challenged by Opposition Leader

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Mandatory COVID Tests for Presidential Meetings Challenged by Opposition Leader
Mandatory COVID Tests for Presidential Meetings Challenged by Opposition Leader
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Mr. Mathias Mpuuga, the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, raised concerns about the compulsory COVID-19 tests required for individuals meeting President Museveni. The discussion ensued after Members of Parliament were mandated to undergo COVID-19 testing as a prerequisite for attending the National Prayer breakfast meeting scheduled at State House. Mr. Mpuuga sought clarification from the Ministry of Health on the rationale behind these mandatory tests, and Deputy Speaker Mr. Thomas Tayebwa agreed to the request.

Mr. Mpuuga emphasized the need for an updated report on the COVID-19 situation in Uganda, as this information would help determine whether the continued requirement for COVID-19 tests when meeting President Museveni is warranted. He also highlighted the importance of providing clear and consistent messaging regarding COVID-19, especially for travelers coming to Uganda.

Mr. Mpuuga questioned the necessity of COVID-19 tests specifically for visits to State House, expressing concern that mixed signals were being sent regarding the pandemic’s status in the country.

He further inquired whether State House was now considered a COVID-19 hotspot in the region or the country due to these testing requirements.

This discussion originated from the recent directive for Members of Parliament to undergo mandatory COVID-19 testing before attending the National Prayer breakfast meeting at State House. Mr. Mpuuga questioned why legislators were required to undergo such tests before meeting President Museveni.

In May of this year, the World Health Organization declared that COVID-19 was no longer classified as a global health threat. The President himself had tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after this declaration, following three rounds of testing.

Prior to this parliamentary session, Mr. Mpuuga had expressed dissatisfaction with the ongoing mandatory COVID-19 tests for individuals meeting President Museveni, citing a significant waste of government resources.

Mr. Thomas Tayebwa, the Deputy Speaker, supported the need for clarity from the Ministry of Health and emphasized the importance of an updated COVID-19 status report for the country to make informed decisions.

The State Minister for Health in charge of Primary Health Care, Ms. Margaret Muhanga, defended the requirement for mandatory COVID-19 tests for individuals meeting President Museveni. She explained that COVID-19 was still a concern and stated that the tests were not solely due to the President’s age. Ms. Muhanga revealed that a scientific committee within the Ministry of Health recommended testing for everyone meeting the President, including other heads of state.

Ms. Muhanga also committed to reviewing the latest COVID-19 data collected across the country and incorporating it into a formal statement to be presented the following week. She emphasized the need to protect the President and cited a consistent need for these tests, even though not many people meet the President regularly.