Many city dwellers have taken to jogging after President Museveni last week banned public and private means of transport as a measure to curb the spread of Covid-19. Either because many now have enough time on their hands to exercise, or the roads are freer or they cannot stay at home for longer hours, the roads are now filled with people burning calories. But at what cost?
Pictures circulating on mainstream and social media show crowds in city suburbs exercising in total disregard of the social distancing directive, much to the chagrin of a section of the public and government officials.
On Sunday, both Judith Nabakooba, the Minister of Information and Communications Technology, and police spokesperson Fred Enanga, said Ugandans were not observing social distancing directive.
Health minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the ministry’s Permanent Secretay, Dr Diana Atwine, have also advised members of the public to maintain a social distance of four meters.
Jogging has been discouraged in other countries, including in the United Kingdom and Italy, which have been hit hard by the pandemic. For instance, in March, Italians were urged to stop jogging outside during the coronavirus lockdown.
Federico D’Inca, a government minister, said the practice exposed those involved in the exercises to the spread of the virus. Maurizio Casasco, the president of the Italian Federation of Sports Doctors, warned: “People who go running tend to rest on benches and stop to stretch. We need to leave these habits behind.”
By the time of writing this, Italy had registered more than 15,000 deaths; many of them over the past one month. What we need to get clear is that government asked us to stay home in order to reduce contact with many people.
Going out to jog in numbers beats this the logic because it gives the virus enough legroom to spread because people cough, sneeze, and do not wash their hands while exercising.
We should also appreciate that we are yet to get stricter measures that would not allow us leave our houses. And if we fail to adhere to the directives, we could have more cases, and the government will have no option but to ask us not to leave our homes altogether.
Let us not abuse the small freedom we have, for we are being asked to stay home for our own good. In some countries that have been hit hardest by the pandemic, people disobeyed lockdown orders. They partied, went to concerts, and refused to stay home. Let us not get to that level. There is no cure for Covid-19 and the only way out is staying home.