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Lifting Lockdown Restrictions Should Not Excite You – Health Minister

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Public health experts across the world have long warned that opening up shops and releasing citizens from their homes could be more difficult and dangerous than shutting them in. In what seems to be a position in agreement, Dr Aceng warns that opening up will instead allow the virus to stealthily surge, and possibly set off another wave of infections.
Photo Courtesy of US Food and Drug Administration

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The Minister of Health Dr Jane Ruth Aceng has cautioned that the lifting of lockdown restrictions should not be a reason for excitement in Uganda today. Instead, the public should be worried about the possible increase in COVID-19 infections. 

The warning comes barely a week after president Yoweri Museveni announced measures to ease the lockdown with-effect from next week, allowing private vehicles to move and a number of businesses to open after two months of lockdown. 

But Public health experts across the world have long warned that opening up shops and releasing citizens from their homes could be more difficult and dangerous than shutting them in. In what seems to be a position in agreement, Dr Aceng warns that opening up will instead, allow the virus to stealthily surge, and possibly set off another wave of infections. 

She emphasizes that the public should not relax and think that easing restrictions is a sign of progress in handling the deadly pandemic, and adds that if people do not adhere to social-distancing guidelines and other protective measures, the excitement will be short-lived.   

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Dr Aceng adds that the burden of COVID-19 is not yet going down, yet Africa is predicted to be the next epicentre of the virus according to models released by international health organization’s and experts.  

“We cannot afford to go the way that many other countries went. We cannot afford to have the scenarios that are happening in the US, Italy and France here in Uganda because if that happens it would be a disaster; first, we don’t have the systems they have, two; we don’t have the capacity and three we must keep alive, nobody should die, nobody wants to die and we are not prepared to die!” 

The minister advised that Ugandans might have to learn to live with coronavirus;

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In neighboring Tanzania, Although the government closed schools, stopped international flights and banned large gatherings, other economic activities and religious services continued. But still, President John Magufuli says the government has resolved to re-open universities and allow the resumption of sports and international flights, a decision which spells doom for Tanzania’s neighbors.

Dr Aceng explained that although its good news that Uganda has not lost any person to coronavirus disease- this has created complacency among Ugandans, making it the biggest challenge to convince nationals that lockdowns are necessary and that the disease is lethal.  

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Uganda has been under lockdown since mid-March, a measure taken to control the spread of coronavirus disease. But the burden of movement restrictions and lockdowns has greatly affected low-income households and those working in the informal economy due to their loss of livelihoods and inability to access markets.

Several countries in the region have already announced measures to mitigate some of the risks of lockdowns on food supply, from in-kind distributions to the recent announcement by Heads of State of the East African Community of their intention to develop a mechanism for tracking and certification of cross-border truck drivers to ensure the safe delivery of essential goods.

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