News that Uganda has registered the Indian Covid-19 variant is frightening. Col Dr Henry Kyobe, the Covid-19 incident commander, revealed that the country has now registered five Covid-19 variants, namely Uganda, India, Nigeria, South Africa, and UK strains.
He said the UK, South Africa, and India variants are more transmissible and mainly affect a younger age group (“Uganda confirms Indian strain”, Daily Monitor of April 30.)
India is currently battling an overwhelming number of Covid-19 infections with shortage of oxygen, medicine and hospital beds plaguing the country.
The situation is so dire that they are reportedly running out of space for cremations. By the end of last week, the country had more than 3,500 deaths nationwide.
What India is experiencing is a catastrophe that could easily befall us if we do not act now to prevent it.
It is unfortunate that many people have taken on a lassiez faire attitude when it comes to observing the standard operating procedures that were put in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Face masks have long been discarded by many and hand sanitising is now treated like an inconvenience. Even with the AstraZeneca vaccine finally here, a section of the population seem to be waiting to be cajoled by government to go to the vaccination centres for the jab. Social distancing is a thing of the past and the water containers that were once placed at entrances of public places for people to wash their hands have not been refilled in months.
The excitement of innovations such as hands-free hand washing equipment by students died down. We have moved on but numbers show that Covid-19 has not. If we carry on like this, ending up where India is today will be easier and sooner than we think.
A story in Daily Monitor of April 30 tells of how a random survey showing that access to safe water, maintenance of water points and availability of sanitation services in health facilities across Acholi Sub-region remain questionable.
This state of affairs at health facilities of all places does not help matters at all. It is reported that some of the water sources for these health centres such as boreholes are broken down, that the hand washing facilities have dirty water and no soap or hand sanitisers. Hopefully, it is not too late to change the status quo.
It is time to go back to the drawing board and step up preventive measures such as regular handwashing, wearing face masks and shields, hand sanitising, social distancing, etc.
Messages targeted at waking the country from the laxity it is in now, are also key. Training of community mobilisers would also ease the sensitisation and awareness campaigns.