Kampala, Uganda | URN | As police fraternity mourns the demise of Kira Road Division Police Commander, Matthias Turyasingura who reportedly succumbed to COVID-19, vigilance has been increased almost at every station.
Turyasingura, who took himself to hospital was announced dead on Tuesday 25th, May 2021 night. With the shocking death of Turyasingura, police commanders have now resumed enforcing restrictions and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) intended to contain the spread of COVID-19.
At Kampala Central Police Station-CPS which attends to over 500 people every day, civilians are not allowed to access the premises without wearing masks and washing hands. People who are going to lodge complaints or following up on their detained relatives are monitored at the stairs by police officers. Even those who have not worn their masks properly are ordered to wear them properly or else they are sent back.
As a measure of COVID-19 restrictions, police officers are no longer allowing people crowding at the reception or waiting rooms even though they are wearing masks. More hand washing facilities have been put at every floor of the main building at CPS. At police headquarters, no one walking or driving is allowed to access the premises without sanitizing.
Civilians and police personnel on foot are ordered to wash their hands at the main entrance of police headquarters. Those with cars are hand sprayed and subjected to body temperature measurement.
Since the start of this year, police installations just like other public institutions had relaxed a bit on enforcing COVID-19 SOPs at the stations. Some people could access stations without even wearing a mask or washing hands.
However, deputy Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson Luke Owoyesigyire said it is very challenging for police to enforce COVID-19 restrictions or SOPs. This is because of huge numbers of people on Kampala streets, in arcades, malls and plazas.
“There was a time when people were not moving. There were few people in the city. But now almost every business is operating and many people are coming to town daily. We think we need to restore all measures that had been put in place,” Owoyesigyire said.
Uganda according to ministry of health has registered over 44,500 COVID-19 cases since March last year. Of these, over 360 have succumbed to the contagious disease. Although cases had reduced, a few days ago, ministry of health permanent secretary Dr. Diana Atwine expressed concern at the rate at which the new cases are surging as all ICU centres are filled.
Owoyesigyire said with big numbers of people in the city daily, police are preoccupied with day to day crimes such as robberies, theft, terror-like incidents like throwing petrol bombs and traffic crashes which had been reduced because of lockdown.
Managers of arcades, malls and plazas have abandoned enforcement of COVID-19 SOPs. People walk in and out of the shopping centres without washing hands or wearing masks. Policemen and women have been reminded to have their masks on every time they are engaging with civilians as well as with their colleagues.
Dr Moses Byaruhanga who is also director police health services in a recent interview with this publication said 26,550 out of nearly 47,000 total police personnel have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
However, in Kampala, only 7,833 out of over 13,000 policemen and women have been vaccinated.