Different government officials have set off alarm bells following the surge in the new Coronavirus cases especially in Kampala.
The Minister of Health Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng has said that the country has now entered the dangerous phase three of community transmission of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Aceng said in a recent address: “As you may all be aware, the COVID-19 situation in the country is rapidly changing. As I mentioned in my previous address to the public, we are in phase three of the COVID-19 pandemic, where we are seeing clusters of community transmission and now death in the country, and specifically in Kampala metropolitan area.
Reports from the Ministry of Health indicate that 43 new COVID-19 were identified on Monday August 17 alone. Monday’s figures confirm Aceng’s earlier worries that the trend pointed to further increases in infections.
“This trend implies that we shall be seeing the number of cases go up. It is important to note that of all the 11 deaths so far reported nationally (as of Aug 15), eight are from the Kampala region alone. More so, all were identified from unknown transmission lines.
She added: “This in essence signals tougher times ahead and thus a much deeper need for compliance to the Presidential directives, the Ministry of Health standard operating procedures and the statutory instruments in place for this public health threat. We the Ugandan population will determine the direction this pandemic will take us, either to the worst case scenario or to a reversal of the current situation. Let’s all choose life and adhere to the standard operating procedures.
Of critical concern, as Aceng has noted, the origin of transmission for many of the cases have been tracked down to public places such as at arcades, taxis, hospitals and other places of mass gatherings. For example, the two cases that were detected from the two arcades in Kampala, were traced back to taxis.
Also, two journalists; one from the government-owned Vision Group and another from their rivals Nation Media have tested positive to the disease. The two journalists were detected during the mandatory testing of all those that were scheduled to cover the elections for the ruling party’s top decision-making organ – the Central Executive Committee (CEC).
These findings have led to government officials to warn of a possible reversal of the easing of the lockdown by re-introducing the ban on public transport.
The Minister of Works Gen. Katumba Wamala, has already warned that the return of the ban on public transport, is a possibility due to the apparent level of complacency among both the operators as well as the commuting public in observing COVID-19 prevention measures such as wearing of masks and social distancing.
On the other hand, the President’s representative (Resident District Commissioner) in Mukono district Fred Bamwine has called for the government to remobilise all members of the reserve forces as well as the Local Defence Unit to try to enforce the government standard operating procedures.
For now though, it is not yet clear if president Museveni will be persuaded to re-introduce the restrictions, or whether he will wield the stick to enforce the SOPs.
But the ministry of health has repeatedly blamed the lifting of the lock down for the surge in new cases.
Dr. Henry Mwebesa, the Director General of Health Services said in a statement on Monday that: “The Ministry of Health with concern has observed the rapidly increasing cases in Kampala. The number of cases has been rising since the lifting of the lockdown restrictions. This is because the community is not following the standard operating procedures that include; hand washing, proper use of face masks and social distancing whenever in public places like workplaces, arcades and public transport.”