Covid: The good, bad  of second lockdown

Thursday July 29 2021
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Closed shops and businesses in downtown Kampala after government imposed a nationwide lockdown to combat the spread of Covid-19. PHOTO/file

By ESTHER OLUKA

The 42-day nationwide lockdown announced by President Museveni on June 18 to curb the spread of Covid-19 after the country was hit by the second wave comes to an end today.
With the lockdown, people  were ordered to stay home,  private and public transport were temporarily suspended, while education institutions,  places of worship and business centres were closed.

The last 42 days have been filled with the good and bad, twists and turns and drama as well.
On Saturday June 19, traders ignored the directive of staying home and opened their shops while others went to the streets to sell their merchandise.
Little did they know that they would be engaged in running battles with security operatives for flouting the guidelines.
 
The stubborn traders were flogged using sticks.
 Days later, security operatives were deployed on the streets forcing many traders to adhere to the guidelines.
As the month of June drew to a close, the cases of infections and deaths continued rising in the country.
From June 15 to June 23, statistics from the Ministry of Health indicated that of the 77, 574 samples tested, 10,931 tested positive for Covid-19. In the same period, the country lost at least 322 people to the virus.

The herbal-medicinal trends
With the increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases,  many people resorted to drinking concoctions from various elements including ginger, lemons, garlic and honey.
However, medical personnel, urged the public to go slow on concoctions explaining that they could cause peptic ulcers  if consumed in high quantity.
Similarly, other people took to smoking cannabis, also known as marijuana or weed to treat Covid-19 related symptoms. Again, different medical personnel discouraged the use of marijuana saying there was no scientific proof to show it was helpful in treating Covid-19 and that it would instead  cause health issues such as addiction and intoxication.

Meanwhile, others opted for steam therapy which involves inhalation of warm water vapor to soothe nasal passages.
Hospital bills, other crises
All has not been well in both government and private health facilities.
It started with limited beds, lack of  personal protective equipment (PPEs) and oxygen for patients. 
The oxygen crisis  led hospitals and individuals  to turn  to private firms such as Oxygas, Roofing and Steel and Tube. 

On the other hand, some private hospitals took advantage of the situation and charged highly for treating Covid-19 patients. 
The charges went as high as Shs10 million for a one day admission. Some hospitals also went as far as holding dead bodies after families failed to clear bills.
 Many hospitals defended the practice saying the equipment and medicines for treating  Covid-19 patients were expensive hence the high prices.

Transport woes
The categories of people who were allowed to move during the 42-day lockdown were expected to apply for travel permits through an online system issued by the Ministry of Works and Transport.
 Among these included essential workers such as health workers, journalists, and government staff.  However, in circumstances where one had an emergency, they were expected to get written travel permit from their respective local area leaders.
But because the process also had its own shortcomings, some individuals did not bother securing travel permits from their leaders.

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 Instead, they used tricks to fool police on the road. Some faked illnesses while others forged Covid-19 positive results but the unlucky ones got caught. 
For instance, a woman who fixed a straw and plasters around her left hand was caught after police closely inspected her hand. After this and many other incidents, police vowed to work closely with medical personnel at checkpoints to arrest those faking documents and sickness.

 The Covid-19 relief money
During the lockdown, the government promised to give vulnerable people Shs100,000 as relief cash.
 While some got the money, others are to yet receive the cash following glitches in the exercise.
On Monday, protestors dumped an empty coffin at Mulago hospital with placards condemning Dr Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Health accusing her of instigating the loss of money meant for the Covid-19 response. The incident undoubtedly climaxed the drama of the 42-day lockdown.

Covidex
Covidex, a locally-made herbal medicine became a renowned household name following approval for use by the National Drug Authority (NDA). 
Developed by Prof Patrick Ogwang, the drug is being used as a supportive treatment for Covid-19 and other viral infections. 
The high demand for the drug saw its price increase to more than Shs40,000 from Shs15,000.
 

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