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Busia district leaders halt enforcement of facemasks use

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Busia district leaders have halted the enforcement of the mandatory wearing of face masks after failing to secure enough masks for the entire population of the area.

The border district received 305,000 face masks for distribution as part of a government declaration calling for the mandatory wearing of masks to safeguard communities against COVID-19. But the masks were not enough to cover the people that fall within the bracket of those targeted for the distribution of masks.

Records show there are up to 325,527 people in this bracket. This means that more than 20,000 people were not catered for. As they traversed villages on the distribution drive, area chairperson and village health teams restricted provisions to only two masks per household according to the residents.

Several local council leaders across the districts said the masks were fewer than the number of people who need them. While some rejected them, those around the municipality asked that priority is given to them because of the congestion and associated risks.

Now the authorities in the district say they cannot begin forcing people to wear masks until they are sure that everyone has received a mask from the government. Busia Deputy Resident District Commissioner Paul Kalikwan says they need an additional 200,000 facemasks to enable everyone in the district get a mask before enforcement can begin.

Similarly, Busia Municipality Member of Parliament Geoffrey Macho says that security personnel should not oppress people without facemasks because the government committed itself to provide masks to every Ugandan and has not done so more than a month after the commitment was made.

George Barasa, the head of village chairpersons in Busia says that residents in his area exaggerated the number of members in each household and as a result the distribution could not cover a wider area.

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