It’s now months since the deadly Ebola hemorrhagic fever struck the country. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as of 2nd November 2022, there have been 131 confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease, including 48 deaths
The government has since imposed a mini-lockdown on the areas of Kasanda and Mubende, with some restrictions in and out of those gazetted areas, prompting residents to protest the said restrictions. The protests are borne out of the fact that the residents don’t feel that the lockdown is justified since the infection rates are not as alarming as feared earlier.
They insist that the situation should be restored back to normal for people to resume life as it was before, thus resurrecting the debate between livelihoods and protecting lives as advanced by the pro-lockdown camp. When you institute the lock-down, you kill the livelihoods of the people because you restrict them from moving around to earn a living.
Some of us managed to viciously oppose the lockdown because it never made sense to protect lives while at the same time, killing off the livelihoods of people. What made matters worse was the fact that the Covid-19 lockdown was instituted even before a single infection was registered in the country.
There are those who exonerate President Museveni of the lockdown glitch by suggesting that he was operating on orders from the World Health Organization. But we need to question his sense of judgment. Some of us questioned why the government had not stuck to its guns to resist the lockdown! Didn’t Tanzanian administration do it, when the late President John Pombe Magufuli refused to give in to the temptation of instituting the lockdown!
Later on, the pro-lockdown group advanced strong suggestions that President Magufuli actually succumbed to the covid-19 pandemic. There was something so fishy about that lockdown that even Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza, who had also resisted the lockdown, also died a very tricky death attributed to Covid19.
But would the lives of the two Presidents be spared if they had imposed the lockdown? Brazilian President Bolsonaro, who had rejected all suggestions of imposing restrictions was also faced with a very bad global press. He has since lost the Presidential election to former President Lula da Silva which was held last month.
Some of us were advancing strong suggestions that if the medical science fraternity had failed to find a vaccine for the virus, then it couldn’t be trusted with the stringent prescriptions it was giving out to the world. How could the World Health Organization insist on lockdown of the global economy even before the virus had spread to most parts of the world?
Most pandemics strike mankind with different ferocity to different parts of the world. You cannot therefore insist on one-size-fits-all approach of a lockdown even before you find out how most parts can cope with it. In fact, time has absolved our theories because Africa WAS NOT affected by the Corona Virus like the Western world. When you look at the figures, you will find that Uganda only lost 3,630 people to covid19
It was therefore, WRONG for African countries to rush into imposing lockdowns before assessing the situation. There were people who insisted that China was targeting to bring down the American in particular, and the world economy in general, with the use of a lockdown. Former American President Donald Trump tried his best to resist the lockdown but was strongly defeated by officials from the CDC (Center for Disease Control).
What is amazing is that China, which was the source of the pandemic managed to build a hospital within two months, of her emergence and also went on to relax the restrictions faster than the rest of the world. President Donald Trump was furious that US economy was being put in jeopardy with the continued restrictions and went on to provoke some states to open up and relax the restrictions to enable the economy to recover.
It so happened that the conspiracy by the Chinese to blackmail the global economy had worked. Meanwhile, our Ugandan government was faced with a serious dilemma of imposing restrictions even when there was no justification to do so! Some of you might have forgotten that it took Uganda a whole four months without registering a single infection.
President Museveni first announced the lockdown on 17th March 2020. But Uganda first experienced the first infection in august 2020! Meanwhile, hundreds of Ugandans were rotting in jail for defying the lockdown. Many of them actually lost their lives due to the hands of the police which was using brutal means of enforcing the Presidential directives.
According to the records, Uganda registered 169,000 cases but only 3,630 deaths were registered. These figures prove that the lockdown was totally unjustified. There are theories that every death from any other disease was falsely attributed to the Corona Virus to justify the lockdown. Even suggestions that Covid was airborne were rubbished because it would have diluted the necessity for the lockdown yet the same medical fraternity was adamant that it was flu. How can flu not be airborne?
Question is; why were governments around the world desperate to announce Covid-19 infection rates and deaths and insisting on the lockdown as the most important tool for curbing it? Incidentally speaking, Ebola is menacingly more dangerous than the Corona Virus because its fatality rate is higher. You can see for yourself that although Ebola has struck as deep as Kampala City and beyond into Jinja, it has NOT managed to have the devastating effects as feared earlier. Ebola has only managed to kill 48 un-lucky Ugandans, out of the 131 confirmed cases.
All in all, the point here is that the lockdown should NEVER be used as a tool for curbing a given pandemic again. just like the proverbial saying that there are very many ways to skin the cat, there are very many ways that can be used to take care of the situation without sacrificing the livelihoods of the people in the guise of safeguarding their lives with unnecessary lockdowns.
- Fred Daka Kamwada is a seasoned journalist, blogger and political analyst for over a decade in Uganda
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