The spread of Covid-19 in Uganda reached the most critical level of community transmission. This therefore implies that, all Ugandans are now susceptible to Covid-19.
The increase in Covid-19 cases seem to have overwhelmed the government, leading to the introduction of the private testing facility, notwithstanding it’s pitfalls. A single test goes for over two hundred thousand Uganda shillings. I believe a big number of Ugandans may not be in position to foot that bill.
It is also key to note that the pandemic continues to claim more lives each day. The most recent being two frontline medical workers, whom, I believe contacted the virus on duty. Such heroes should be honored posthumously.
Considering the fact that the virus could be everywhere, the only weapon left to us, after prayer, is the strict implementation of the SOPs. Key among others; the wearing of a facemask, physical distance, and sanitising regularly.
The pandemic coincided with the most tricky and exciting period in Uganda—the elections. At this time, politicians are up and down, from one place to the other, canvassing for support. Political party activity is at it’s peak, with massive press conferences held throughout the week.
All this would be okay if done in accordance with the set health guidelines. Unfortunately, it’s the reverse. Politicians from the respective political parties have publicly flouted the health guidelines, sending a negative message to their followers. And often times, I have heard politicians lamenting that they flout the SOPs because Ministers are also doing it. That is wrong!
Politicians are strong opinion leaders, whose rhetoric and nonverbal appearance influence people’s actions. People are thus more likely to accept what they say or do compared to their technical counterparts. Consequently, they ought to always be critical to avoid misleading people. Most especially on matters affecting their well-being.
A political party may say, that all members attending the press conference tested negative, that sounds good. However, it shouldn’t stop them from wearing their mask or keeping physical distance. The person watching on television cannot tell that you’re negative, but instead they’re inspired to think that wearing a mask is not necessary, or even think Covid-19 is not a big deal.
It’s paradoxical that politicians from the ruling party also flout the standard operating procedures. This has been evident in the NRM primaries, where even Ministers were captured on camera holding unlawful rallies. Majority of the people attending these rallies had no masks. The voting technique—lining, made matters worse. Physical distance was greatly abused. Why set rules you can’t abide with?
I also believe it is illogical for the opposition to flout the rules, based on what those in government are doing. If I set out to fight an enemy, I always capitalise on their weaknesses. I try to perfect what they have failed. This way, the opposition team that seeks to unseat the ‘bad government’ which doesn’t follow her own rules, should do their best to profit from implementing the good policies of that government. This will present them as law abiding leaders, that wish good to their people. And shall consequently conquer the people’s hearts and be voted in government.
Until politicians realise their status and influence in the fight against Covid-19, Uganda is likely to register more cases. It is unfortunate that politicians have the means to test and even be cured, Mulago was recently sealed off for the VIPs. But the wanainchi they’re misleading may not get a chance to recover from the surge, because they can’t afford the medical bills.
As news makers, politicians dominate most of the television bulletins, and thus, if they strictly respect the SOPs, they’re likely to influence their followers to do the same. In so doing, we shall limit the rapid spread of Covid-19, and save ourselves from the worst health crisis that may befall us.
A politician that doesn’t follow the SOPs should be seen as a reckless leader. Wearing a mask or keeping physical distance is due diligence to self and your people, not the government of Uganda. We all have a duty to keep ourselves and others free from Covid-19.
The author is a socio-political commentator
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