Ugandan President Museveni has just announced sweeping restrictions on social contact. This might seem normal to many of you around the world except…
Uganda hasn’t had one confirmed case yet!
For 1 month (and almost certainly longer)
– All schools closed!
– No religious gatherings
– No weddings/funerals/political gatherings/concerts
– No regular market days (This cuts off large scale trading between the village and town)
– No foreigners from 32 coronavirus rampant countries (Sad for people on holiday overseas)
– Only “essential” public transport (whatever that means, maybe more bribe opportunities…)
These are (I think) is THE MOST EXTREME MEASURES any country has taken before having a case
Do I agree? Probably not. Closing schools before the first confirmed case seems premature if you believe in your Covid testing system. If you think you are missing cases than I would understand. Perhaps Uganda could wait for the first few cases at least before pulling the plug on the entire education system. Also we haven’t seen previous influenza pandemics or coronavirus go rampant in tropical countries, so we don’t know what course coronavirus will follow in Uganda – it’s not quite Europe in winter.
On the other hand many countries that haven’t acted so early have suffered terribly, so I understand the sentiment. It’s impossible to be even close to sure what the best decision is yet, as we are still so early in the pandemic process.
More than anything, this is going to be a test of the power of the government in the everyday lives of Ugandans. Previous orders have failed both due to poor implementation and public resistance, like forcing people to register sim cards and enforcing a plastic bag ban. Will market days in remote places really stop? Will public transport slow down or will the police just cash in on extra bribe opportunities? Fear however is a powerful motivator, and will help enforcement
There’s also going to be huge grey areas. At the moment we are in the middle of launching 20 remote health centers through our social enterprise OneDay health. Are we allowed to keep doing that?
Also if you are Ugandan and keen for Uganda-specific advice and updates, St. Philip Health center just started sharing twice daily Coronavirus news and advice to help keep yourself safe. Sign up and stay informed!