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Soroti authorities suspend prayers over surging Covid-19 cases

Soroti Covid-19 taskforce has imposed a ban on religious institutions activities in Asuret sub county over surging Covid-19 cases. File Photo

Soroti, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Soroti district Covid-19 taskforce has suspended all church-related activities in Asuret sub county for a month following the increasing cases of Covid-19.

Asuret sub county registered 173 cases of Covid-19 between September 22 and October 1, 2021. This is almost a quarter of the cumulative cases recorded in the district comprising 12 sub-counties since March 2020.

Soroti Resident District Commissioner Patrick Okumu said that the decision is to enable vigorous sensitization of the communities on adherence to the standard operating procedures- SOPs, testing and treatment of patients with the virus in the sub-county. According to the RDC, the closure of churches will now enable health officials to track down the positive cases in the sub-county and provide feedback on their health status, orient the VHTs on home-based care management and enforcement of SOPs.

“The decision to close the religious institutions was informed by the surge in the number of COVID-19 cases in Asuret compared to other sub-counties. Data from health facilities show that Asuret has recorded a constant increase in the number of cases, a situation that needs to be addressed”, Okumu said in a statement shared at the District Communications forum.

David Agwanyi, the district councillor representing Asuret sub-county says that most of the people have returned to the old practices of social gathering especially in trading centres, video halls and churches without masks. He however notes that the situation has been worsened by the low enforcement of the presidential guidelines.

Rev. Samuel Ediau, the Diocesan Secretary of Soroti says the decision was rationally taken after weighing the options.

“The leaders from Asuret could have focused on prevention rather than causation where we can argue that it was the churches that caused the hike in numbers since they had been opened just a week back. But if they looked at the possible spread going forward, then the churches were definitely going to be super-spreaders in the community. I encourage the church leaders to respect authority as long as what they are doing is for the common of all”, he said in a text.

President Museveni opened places of worship last month after more than two weeks in the second lockdown instituted in the country following the outbreak of COVID-19 since March 2020. But Soroti remained one of the hotspot districts of COVID-19 infections in the country. The president in his latest address to the country delayed the resumption of weekly markets in Soroti since it was regarded as the epicentre of the deadly virus.

By September 9, 2021, Soroti district had vaccinated only 8,186, out of which only 2,186 had received the two jabs. The overall district target for vaccination is 175,000 people.



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