COVID-19

Covid19: Will President Museveni lift the lockdown?

Uganda’s President, Y. K. Museveni is expected to address the nation on 28th April 2020 on the state of the covid19 pandemic in Uganda. Like many other countries, Uganda has been under lockdown since April 1st, 2020. People are all eagerly waiting for the President’s address.

We expect the President to announce easing on the lockdown. Many people are suffering from what is being referred to as “lockdown” fatigue – a situation of being tired of staying at home, doing nothing. No work means no income. It has been a tough period.

The strategy by many countries was clear:

Social distancing through lockdown, quarantine, and manage the known cases, before easing restrictions.

The first step was to stop imported cases by introducing stringent border controls as well as suspending flights from countries with high-risk cases. For this, many airlines were grounded except for cargo planes which could deliver essential supplies like medicines, medical supplies, and food.

Then countries had to track all people who traveled in the country from covid19 risk countries. Given a long gestation period, the cases multiplied fast. To this end, countries that created a quick capacity to test many people per day succeeded in identifying the infected persons, quarantining them, and thereby arresting the spread. However, many countries that could not test many people in a short time, had their covid19 cases multiply. And that is how so many people became infected and the idea of “flattening the curve” came up. The lockdown was part of the social distancing strategy to reduce the fast spread of the virus and avoid overwhelming the health systems.

Also, other countries undertook mass sanitization of people and all public places. You saw on TV how some countries would force people to lower their car windows, and spray inside as well as in their apartments. This helped to reduce the spread of the virus.

However, in some countries, despite their failure to test and mass sanitize people, lockdown was activated late. And by then, many people had been infected. And that explains why the US and Europe had been badly affected by this pandemic.

The next strategy was the treatment of the cases that tested positive. However, with many people falling sick, and not enough beds for specialized treatment, many people have died.

The last intervention has been limiting the spread through social distancing measures. The lockdown came in a timely.

However, Ugandan being a landlocked country, all imports are delivered to the country via tracks since this is the cheapest means of transport. Cargo planes charge a lot and make prices for essential products expensive. That is why the ports in Kenya and Tanzania handle Uganda’s imports. The cargo truck drivers into Uganda are now the countries biggest vector spreading the covid19 cases since Tanzania has not implemented any lockdown of some kind.  All new cases in Uganda since 14th April 2020 have been imported, and currently stand at 23 cases of all cases in Uganda!

Today, Uganda’s confirmed covid19 cases stand at 79. Of which only 33 are active ad 46 have recovered and 0 fatalities. This is great news. So far 100% recovery rate is fantastic. This means the country’s timely lockdown intervention was the best decision.

What next?

Considering that no new cases confirmed have been due to local or internal infections, it means that local cases have adequately been managed. The only risk that remains is the imported cases by the truck drivers, who could have stopovers along the road in several towns and trading centers thereby infecting the local people. Many people in Uganda sell food by the roadside, these could then infect many other people. And considering that children were sent back home for holidays if schools were opened, they could even infect them which could cause the second outbreak that could be catastrophic.

Now the government must fast track testing upcountry before the lockdown is lifted.

Considering many countries are not easing lockdown restrictions, the President could announce the opening of the businesses starting May 1st, 2020, or from 7th May. To do so, more controls over track drivers to be announced.

The economy needs fresh air. Business is likely to start opening in phases as the situation eases.

We also expect the President to announce the economic stimulus packages for businesses, especially the small ones, which employ most of the Ugandans. Experience has shown that providing investment incentives to the capitalist and big businesses rarely helps the economy. At this time, stimulating demand especially for agriculture products that are locally produced would be a timely stimulus.

What do you expect the Presidential address to focus on?

What would you want it to focus on?

Which sectors shall the president allow to operate, with social distancing measures?

Dubai has eased the lockdown, but they have set up auto sanitization machines in all public places. People just walkthrough, and they are automatically sanitized, just as they do for security checks. What has Uganda done to implement mandatory mass sanitization?

Would you support the lifting of the lockdown or the easing of the lockdown? How and why?

Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved.

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