Uganda: COVID-19 - Can We Stay Safe As Lockdown Eases?

On June 1, in his 16th address, President Yoweri Museveni relaxed a number of the guidelines that had been put in place to fight coronavirus. For instance, public service vehicles such as taxis and buses were allowed back on the roads albeit with restrictions.

With the country re-opening, a number of places such as restaurants, banks and markets will have an influx of people. So, are they doing enough to ensure the safety of Ugandans?

Adjusting

One of the KFC outlets in Kampala hit the ground running by effecting the different guidelines such as social distancing and ensuring the wearing of masks.

At Café Javas, when the day starts, all employees' temperatures are checked and when work starts, even that of guests is checked. The restaurant has since availed contactless menus and to effect social distancing, they have reduced their sitting capacity. The situation is different though with many eateries in downtown Kampala. Social distancing has been forgotten in some of these places and besides having water and soap at the entrance, other measures are not emphasised.

Markets

Some of these places have, however, managed to enforce a few measures. For example, at Wandegeya Market, it is everyone's responsibility to ensure that whoever enters the market has sanitised or washed their hands.

Derrick Kulubya, the market's secretary, says most of the workers have been vigilant that they will not let anyone walk into the market without a mask or without washing their hands.

Rachel Nassolo, a vendor at Nakasero Market, says things were easier before the lockdown was eased.

"Then, people cared to keep social distance and wear masks. And of course, since the lockdown was lifted, the traffic in the market has doubled making social distancing almost impossible," she says.

Banks

When the lockdown was effected, banks were recognised as some of the essential services, thus continued operation. Many of them are definitely experiencing an influx in the number of clients.

Gilbert Musaanya, Bank of Africa's general manager operations and support says they had to equip their staff with personal protective equipment such as face masks, gloves and hand sanitisers.

Money problem

In March, different medical reports noted that using cash was one of the fastest ways the coronavirus could be spread since currency goes through many hands, some of which may be infected.

The Ministry of health has since advised Ugandans to wash hands and sanitise after they have touched money because many people use saliva to count it.

Musaanya says they have advised their clients to make use of alternative channels of transacting such as Mobile Wallet, Internet Banking, and Agent Banking.

"We tried encouraging people to use cashless methods of payment but that has been hard. Many want to handle cash thus, this is our biggest problem at the moment, " Kulubya says.

Are we safe?

As many Ugandans return to their work places, many will find some measures in place while other measures will not be enforced, not because the businesses are not willing but because it is simply impossible. For example, many Kampala building management avoided the question of regulating the use of air conditioners since many solely depend on them for ventilation.

Public transport has since been advised to carry half the number they usually take plus, sanitise at the entrance and only take passengers with masks. This, however, has not been adhered to. Other people enter cars and remove their masks while most cars do not have sanitisers.

With more than 800 registered cases, scientists have advised a second lockdown should be considered. However, since the country has not registered a single death, people do not follow the guidelines. Whether they can keep themselves safe while interacting and associating more, only time can tell.

Advice

Healthy practices

The best way to prevent illness from COVID-19 is to avoid being exposed to the virus, as there is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19

-Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 per cent alcohol.

-Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

-Avoid close contact with people who are sick, and practice social distancing by keeping at least 6 feet away from others if you must go out in public.

-Wear a cloth face covering to cover your mouth and nose when around others and when you must go out in public. The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.

-Don't place one on young children under the age of two, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. Learn more.

-Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and throw the tissue away after use. If a tissue isn't available, cough or sneeze into your elbow or sleeve, not your hands. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, computers, phones, keyboards, sinks, toilets, faucets and countertops. (Source: redcross.org)

More From: Monitor

Don't Miss

AllAfrica publishes around 800 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.