Scientists on the COVID-19 task force have said that the public can relax some of the public health measures like wearing face masks.
In the last three weeks, the country on average has been reporting 10 cases a day. COVID-19 Data from the Ministry of Health shows the positivity rate of the country on average is 0.3 percent, meaning only 3 people out of every 100 tested will be positive. With such few cases, scientists now think it is okay for people not to wear masks all the time.
Dr. Misaki Wayengera, the head of the ministerial COVID-19 scientific committee says that it is okay for people not to wear face masks all the time, especially with low positivity rates.
“Wearing masks is such a difficult thing for people. It is a very unnatural thing. If God wanted us to wear masks all the time he would have created us with them but man is not cut out for them. Wearing masks is a behavioral thing and the moment cases drop, the people also relax, but the moment the cases increase, they will wear masks without being reminded,”Dr Wayengera said on Wednesday.
Dr. Monica Musenero, an epidemiologist and Minister of Science, Technology, and innovation says the COVID-19 pandemic is a prolonged disease outbreak, and management of public health measures is important.
She says people need a break from wearing masks so that mask usage does not become a nuisance to them.
According to the current National Planning Authority-NPA, the country could see a surge in cases around June 2022. Dr. Musenero says the public needs to continue adhering to some public health measures like handwashing and vaccination.
She however quickly adds that mask usage should, continue in schools due to the high numbers of learners and teachers that gather in the environment.
“In environments such as schools, it’s important to wear masks because there are many people from different communities who meet up. Since it is not possible to test all learners, it is important for learners to wear masks,” she adds.
While wearing masks has been proved to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the prolonged usage of this particular type of personal protective equipment has been associated with temporary respiratory problems according to research.
A 2020 study carried out in New York and published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology found that constant mask usage can lead to headaches due to hypercapnia and hypoxemia, acne located in the covered area due to the moist conditions there, skin breakdown, and impaired cognition in some cases.
The call for scientists to relax mask usage comes at a time when some parts of the world are reporting a new variant, Deltacron, that is believed to be a mixture of both the Delta and Omicron variants. So far, scientists say it is as infectious as measles.
So far, Uganda has recorded 164,768 cases and 3,595 deaths.
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