How can we get out of Covid-19 lockdown?

Saturday July 24 2021
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Police chase traders from downtown Kampala as they enforced the presidential directives on July 1. Many people are flocking Kampala City centre despite businesses remaining closed. PHOTO/ MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI

By Guest Writer

In August 2020, a medical journal Lancet ranked Uganda in the top 10 best performing countries in suppressing Covid-19.

So how did we slip into the second lockdown and how can we get out of it? In his speech on March 30, 2020, President Museveni noted that “if everybody listened, the cases that entered into the house would not have spread the disease.

The question, however, is:  ‘Did all our people listen?’ That is why it is better not to take any risk,” hence the first lockdown.
Gladly so, majority listened and the virus didn’t find more dry grass  meaning by May 26 2020, the lockdown restrictions were relaxed.  

From January to April, the positivity rate in tested samples was mostly below three per cent but the rate started climbing sharply in May with the emergency of the more transmissible Delta Variant, hitting 18 per cent on June 2. This prompted the President to issue new directives on June 6 in order to reverse this trend but “Did all our people listen?” 

Despite those directives, taxis and boda bodas continued dropping passengers at district boundaries, to be taken over by their colleagues the other side of the district border. Daily positive cases continued to raise, the doubling time dropped by more than a half, demand for oxygen increased, hospital treatment units went from nearly empty, to full within days, the situation of which led to the charging of exorbitant prices for treatment by most private hospitals.  This is how we got into the 42-day lockdown.

We had more deaths reported in the month of June alone (684) than total deaths reported since the start of the pandemic (364). 

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Lockdowns and other health measures can cripple society in painful ways, but that pain is temporary and in service of the larger goal of defeating Covid-19. People endure the lockdowns because help is on the way. We need to shout out to those few characters in society, the covidiots who continue to disobey the set SOPs, for they are keeping us in the lockdown.  

An example of a covidiot is that person who chooses to call a trader in downtown Kampala to deliver a certain item, knowing that non-essential shops in that area are all closed. This trader, not wanting to lose this money decides to get on a boda boda (violation one). The boda guy will ride at a very high speed (violation two) in a bid to dodge the enforcement team.

The high speed could lead to an accident and possible loss of lives. Assuming the trader makes it downtown Kampala, he will find the building closed and instead gather (violation three) with other covidiots, to plot a plan on how to access the building (violation four). Had the first covidiot chosen to order the product online, all the above violations could have been eliminated.

There is hope, however, the positivity rate is now less than eight  per cent, Namboole isolation centre and other hospitals have only fewer patients on admission. Covid-19 is a preventable disease, only if we change our ways and move on the same page as guided by the authorities. Like Oprah Winfried said, “A lesson will keep repeating itself until it is learned.”

#ChangeYourWaysUg     Frank  Kibuule,   [email protected]
 

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