According to Museveni, the idea came to him from an unnamed citizen who told him of a “vision” in which he was to organize national prayers to help tackle the deadly virus which has infected more than 2,600 people and killed 28 others in the country.
“A certain Ugandan came to me and told me that God had told him in a vision that I should organize National Prayers, scientifically organized, for God to deliver us from COVID 19,” Museveni tweeted.
“Therefore, by the powers given to the President of Uganda by Section 2(2) of the Public Holidays Act, I declare the 29th of August 2020, a day of National Prayers and a Public Holiday. Stay in your houses or Compounds and pray.”
Uganda had consistently reported low numbers of daily COVID-19 positive cases, however, recently; it has begun reporting increasing numbers of cases, particularly in Kampala, raising concern among authorities.
On Saturday, the Ministry of Health reported 318 new cases, the country’s highest single daily increase. On Wednesday and Thursday, the ministry reported 98 and 155 cases.
Authorities have threatened to reinstate strict measures, such as imposing a lockdown on Kampala and banning public transport, amid reports of citizens flouting health regulations.
Governments turning to prayers in a bid to help address the problem of the COVID-19 pandemic are not uncommon in East Africa.
In March, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta hosted an inter-religious service marking a national day of prayer a week after it reported its first coronavirus case.
Tanzanian President John Magufuli, whose country was criticised for being slow in imposing COVID-19 measures and lacking transparency in its approach to the pandemic, one time asked citizens to pray away the coronavirus
In June, Magufuli declared the country free from COVID-19 thanks to prayers to God.