By Prof. Waswa Balunywa, PhD
Today, it is reported that most of the hospitals in town are full to capacity and the numbers are due to Coronavirus. The Intensive Care Units (ICUs), in hospitals are few and the actual capacity of these ICUs is also limited. The ventilators, which are used to support breathing for serious Coronavirus patients are also limited in number. All these are fully utilized. This is the tragedy that we are to face if the pandemic is not arrested at this early stage. The situation will get worse.
Lockdowns are intended to check and delay infections and also to enable people be more careful so as to avoid being infected. But the lockdowns have a dark side. They ruin an economy. They make poor people poorer if they don’t work. People must work to earn an income and eat. Many in urban areas will starve if they don’t work. Indeed, it is reported that in the last lockdown, some people starved.
Lockdowns delay infection but do not stop it. A virus will finally be everywhere. Lockdown world-wide worked for some time but have negative long-term effects. When you hear stories of what was happening in other countries, despite having the masks and washing their hands, social distancing, the reports of infections in the developed countries has been very high. It appears this now is replicating itself in this country. It is serious.
The Current Challenge
What is the cause of this current surge? Why appear now? What has the country not done? Where is the virus coming from? Is it possible that the virus has been lying low? I don’t think the virus has been lying low. If the virus matures and possibly kills in 14 days, then the virus that we had in the early stages of the pandemic up to possibly March or April this year is not the virus that we are experiencing right now. This appears like what happened in India. After a Lull, the virus came back with vengeance. It is possible we had earlier developed herd immunity, a natural phenomenon under such conditions. But this is a different type of virus. However, is it’s pointless asking where the virus is coming from.
The most important point is; • How we keep Ugandan safe? • How do we keep our family members safe? • How do we keep our friends, students teachers, and all others safe and • How do we even keep all our medical workers safe?• How do we continue with the economic activities in the country to avoid more people slipping into poverty?• How do we stop these unwanted deaths?• How do we keep our country safe?
These are the questions that somebody needs to answer. Uganda has a task force, which is knowledgeable in the virus issues, which advises H.E. the President. The President, finally takes the decision based on the advice. He directs Ugandans what needs to be done. It has been rumored that the President had rejected another full lockdown especially on economic grounds. Finally, the President spoke on Sunday June 6. He did not lockdown the economy. He requested that education institutions close for six weeks and restricted inter district travel along with limits on gatherings.