The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Uganda now stands at 44. There is a total lockdown of the country though people can still walk to shops. As the lockdown was unexpected, though most people were anticipating it would happen, it caught many off guard. One of the newspapers today was showing a man and his four children walking a distance of 170 kilometers back to the village after losing a job in the city. This distance will take them a number of days, but no one is expected to be on the streets or to be precise, outside in the night beyond 7pm. Security operatives have been widely criticized by a number of parliamentarians, including the Speaker, for their inhumane acts of flogging people. An intern doctor was intercepted and beaten while he was walking home past 7 pm after performing a cesarean section. It is a dilemma. Most people in rural areas, especially those whose livelihood depends on farming, are still engaged in their daily activities and life is still quite normal.
Recommendations from the government have been well-publicized, and most people have adopted them. Several Ugandan musicians have made campaign songs against coronavirus, while online comedians and fun makers are saving social media fanatics from boredom. Hand washing stations are seen at every place of business that is still open. Businesses and institutions like banks which can afford hand sanitizers have them in place. Social distance is what remains a problem. It is not easy for most people to keep the recommended distance of 4 meters from other people, especially in places like markets that are still open. Groups have been limited to five people, but most families are way bigger than that. The nature of housing in slams is also a huge problem that can greatly accelerate the spread of the infection once the virus gets there. There is hardly a distance of 1 meter from house to house in some places on the outskirts of Kampala. Children from the entire neighborhood spend the entire day playing games and running through a maze in a cluster of temporary structures.
Controlling the spread of the disease by meticulously following up on known cases and all of their contacts will greatly help save the nation. Otherwise, a nationwide outbreak will be obviously beyond the control of our health care system. Most people already speculate that the lockdown will eventually be reversed once its negative effects (hunger and lack of access to health centers) become apparent. It’s very hard to imagine what life will look like three months from now considering how long other countries like China have spent in a lockdown. It is illegal for anyone to distribute food items to others. This directive was announced by the president after a number of political parties had started distributing food. The president said they’re simply looking for votes and cheap popularity. The president has plans of distributing food to families that are depending on a daily income, but this is seen by many as a futile effort. It is practically impossible to reach every family that is in need. It is also not easy to identify who needs and who doesn’t need the food! And Uganda does not have the funds to effect that in the entire country for even two weeks!
As of now, there is a contentious bill in parliament discussing a budget that was tabled by the finance minister Mr. Kasaija. 304 billion Uganda shillings is needed to fight coronavirus and its effects, but the biggest percentage of it, 81 billion shillings, is being allocated to security yet the health sector is only getting 62 billion! Ugandans are asking: what is the government’s priority?
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