As Covid-19 started spreading quickly across the world early this year, countries took various approaches to control infections.
Measures such as handwashing, sanitising and wearing facemasks were universal. Countries also applied other guidelines to restrict movement, which led to lockdowns.
Months into the pandemic, feedback from the general public is that of desperation, with many businesses crippled, companies shut down and the economy going downhill.
Small-scale businesses such as kiosks and salons, whose owners live hand-to-mouth, are barely making ends meet. Efforts to distribute food to communities are commendable but not sustainable.
Earlier announcements to ease restrictions on private cars, general merchandise shops, restaurants and other essential services have been positively received because people want to get back to work.
Easing lockdown, however, comes with challenges. There are concerns about a second wave of infections, even if the virus had been controlled. In Uganda’s case, cases are still rising. Elegu border point in northern Uganda is the current hotspot that registered more than 80 cases on Saturday.
This poses a dilemma for Uganda because it is difficult to trace all their contacts. A practical solution to the growing Elegu border cases must be urgently found.
Covid-19 cases in South Sudan are rising faster than Uganda’s. If we use the truck drivers’ cases to inform the decisions on easing restrictions on lockdown, it will be a very long wait because Elegu borders South Sudan.
The government should engage South Sudan on how best the drivers’ dilemma can be effectively managed and cases controlled. The urgent concern and task should be controlling the rising number of cases. The hotspots are known, which should make monitoring and contact tracing easier.
Additionally, with easing of restrictions and slackening of total lockdown, emphasis on the health guidelines must be intensified. At the beginning, lockdown guidelines were strictly observed. This is beginning to change.
Facemasks, for instance, are a requirement for everyone from six years and above when they are in public. But many people still move around without facemasks. For those who have, majority do not wear them properly. Many people have turned them into chin masks, leaving the nose and mouth exposed.
In downtown Kampala, there is congestion as shown in a front page picture published in this newspaper last week following further easing of the lockdown. This exposes the lack of regard for social distancing as a measure to control the spread of Covid-19.
As we await guidance on opening of public transport, with necessary health safety measures, the government should amplify prevention measures and ensure they are being observed. This is the most practical way to contain the virus.
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