COVID-19

The ever increasing #covid19 cases in Uganda: what next?

Coronavirus cases continue to increase, not only in Uganda but globally. As of today, 15th May 2020, confirmed cases in Uganda now stand at 160 – with 63 recoveries, 32 currently on admission, 1 repatriated, and 33 self-existed.  No #covid19 death is yet to be reported. More new cases have been recorded in May 2020 alone, than April and March 2020 combined albeit with a lockdown. Examine Figure 1 carefully.

Figure 1: #covid19 cases trend.

The cases have continued to rise despite timely interventions by the Government. This means if the government had not implemented a lockdown, maybe the virus could have spread in Uganda beyond the manageable levels and now we could be in a health crisis. Table 2 shows the Uganda covid19 response timelines. Many people have appreciated the government of Uganda for having been decisive on the lockdown and doing so timely.

Table 1: Uganda government covid19 response timelines.

On 25th March 2020, I wrote and published an analysis of the projected #covid19 cases, indicating that Uganda would record 129 confirmed covid19 cases by the end of April 2020. For the full article, click here. If your company my projections, with the actual confirmed cases by the Uganda Ministry of Health, Table 2, you see that I was close.

Table 2: Actual MoH reported cumulative #covid19 cases in Uganda as of 14th May 2020.

In my earlier projections, the cases were moving slower. However, now the problem has worsened albeit with the lockdown. The key drivers of the new cases are the truck drivers from Kenya and Tanzania. And the government seems to lack a plan to manage these drivers, considering that Uganda is a landlocked country and therefore must rely on Truck drivers to deliver the country’s imports and exports.

The above all point to more problems. The signs are now is not the time to lift the lockdown. But people are already experiencing lockdown fatigue. So, what next?

What next? This is what I think.

  • Given the increasing number of confirmed cases, it is likely the Government will extend the lockdown. Plus, around this time of the year, students would have come back home for holidays up to 26th May 2020. I think the Government could extend for another two weeks. You know, the saying, change small but change often. The government shall continue extending by 1-2 weeks, as they ease on lockdown restrictions gradually. Even if the lockdown was lifted, I see some parents first waiting for the waters to calm. They may not rush sending back their kids to school.
  • No economic stimulus package has been announced by the government yet. Instead, the government has been taking foreign loans. This is may is not a good position to be in, considering that over 30% of the national budget currently is applied to interest payment. But at the end of the day, the government must function. I see the government exploring more ways to raise money to cover for the anticipated shortfalls in the next financial year, considering that it will be an election year. And the election must take place!
  • The way it looks, #covid19 is here to stay. The government should consider easing the restrictions, open the economy, and focus on enforcing stringent controls to prevent the spread of the virus. After all, the global death rate from the coronavirus is not alarming, at about 7.02%, implying a more than 93% survival rate!

Considering the increasing numbers, what is your take on what the government should do next? Let me know your views.

Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved.

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