The easing of Covid-19 restrictions on tertiary institutions and places of worship by President Museveni on Wednesday has caused a lot of excitement among many Ugandans.
But leaders of these institutions must make sure there is strict adherence to Standard Operating Procedures [SOPs] as we reopen because the pandemic is still here, and those in the target category for vaccination should get inoculated to minimise transmission and death.
Places of worship should not exceed the 200-limit the President prescribed and there should be strict adherence to social distancing, hand washing and wearing of masks. Tertiary institutions should not hide infections once they reopen in November. Cases must be reported to the authorities. All learners, teaching and non-teaching staff, including domestic workers, must be vaccinated as a matter of urgency.
Imams and church leaders should block worshippers without masks and ensure social distancing. It is also important that they mobilise people to get vaccinated. About 67,000 doses of vaccines are at risk of expiry on September 30, but concerted efforts can help the country save the vaccines from going to waste by changing the mindset of people about vaccination.
The Ministry of Health should work with the leaders of institutions to work out the means of increasing vaccine uptake in the country, especially with close to three million doses yet to be dispatched and yet more than 300,000 doses, which are in districts, have not yet been utilised.
In fact, there have been signs of a third wave as the second wave wanes. For instance, the latest Covid-19 statistics from the Ministry of Health indicate that 312 cases were detected out of the 3,829 samples tested on September 22.
About 349 Covid-19 patients are in hospitals while up to 3,140 people have so far died of the disease since its outbreak last year, and more than 122,000 have been infected.
The President, while announcing the easing of lockdown on Wednesday, said some districts continue to show higher transmission rates and are considered hotspots.
The persistent transmission is in Kampala, Kalungu, Kabale, Kumi, Soroti, Tororo, Gulu, Nwoya and Yumbe districts. We must ensure that infections in these districts are controlled to avert another crisis in the country. Those violating SOPs with impunity must be punished.
The Ministry of Health has attributed laxity in observing prevention measures and false security from herbal remedies that people think will protect them from the deadly disease.
We request government to continue monitoring the situation, vaccinate the targeted 4.8 million people at high risk as soon as possible to ensure all education institutions are reopened, and also revise the lockdown restrictions here needed.