By our reporter
In modern day politics, a leader’s word is his or her bond, implying that one will or must always do what he or she has promised to do. Once you make that promise it will be taken as final by those you lead. If you are not sure, you better keep quiet. If you renegade against it, citizens will not take you seriously. Now Ugandans have asked President Yoweri Museveni to give them a perfect end of year gift by keeping his word and “allow the entire economy to fully reopen come January” for the government to be taken seriously. In his Thursday, 28 October address, President Museveni assured Ugandans that the economy will fully reopen in January. Whereas in the past, he said that the full reopening of the economy was tagged on vaccination of a sizable number of the population, Museveni said the government will reopen no matter the vaccination status. He was however optimistic that by December, the country would have received a total of 23 million doses of the Covid vaccines and hoped these would be able to vaccinate at least 12 million people. The president asked sub county chiefs, GISOs and Chief Administrative Officers to ensure they mobilise the population to get vaccinated. Ugandans religiously took his word for gospel truth and embraced the vaccination and according to the Ministry of health statistics of 27th December, 2021, 11,377,067 Ugandans have been inoculated at least with one dose or two. This means Museveni’s projection of 12million can be hit by the end of December to justify why he should not renege on his word to fully reopen the economy in January. The rumour that there should be another lockdown is just a propaganda by the mafia to dampen a section of citizens’ spirits; and Ugandans say this should not make the government not stick to its earlier promise, something that may make it look unserious. And by not sticking to time tables and timelines , analysts say, it will keep citizens who have been in lockdown for two years to cut corners and engage in behaviours that may spell doom for the current government—politically and economically. Pundits are also advising the government to not selectively open some sectors and leave out others because it will be construed to be markings of favouritism.
State House has since dismissed rumours there could be another lockdown ahead of President Museveni’s much-anticipated public address.
Deputy Presidential Press Secretary, Faruk Kirunda said that internet rumours about lockdowns, whether local or general, or about changes to working hours or a shutdown of schools do not reflect the government’s planning
He castigated the rumours, appealing to the general public to disregard them for they are intended to dampen their merry-making spirits.
He described the allegations as mere speculation driven by the current surge in COVID-19 infections.
“The general public’s festive spirit should not be dampened by speculation that another lockdown is in the offing due to the surge in cases. Kindly ignore the rumours and wait for an informed address by H.E the President,” Kirunda said.
DON’T PANIC OVER OMICRON
Despite the surge in Covid numbers over the new variant-Omicron, analysts are also asking the government not to hinge on this to keep the country under partial lockdown. The virus is proving to be contagious but less severe. Actually others say, it may be a blessing in disguise since higher infections and recoveries may lead to much needed herd immunity. People catching Omicron are 50% to 70% less likely to need hospital care compared with previous variants, a major analysis says.
The UK Health Security Agency says its early findings are “encouraging” but the variant could still lead to large numbers of people in hospital.
The study also shows the jab’s ability to stop people catching Omicron starts to wane 10 weeks after a booster dose.
Protection against severe disease is likely to be far more robust.
The report comes hot on the heels of data from South Africa, Denmark, England and Scotland which all pointed to reduced severity.
The latest analysis is based on all cases of Omicron and Delta in the UK since the beginning of November, including 132 people admitted to hospital with the variant. There have also been 14 deaths in people within 28 days of catching Omicron.
The report shows people catching Omicron are: 31% to 45% less likely to go to A&E;
50% to 70% less likely to be admitted to hospital for treatment
LOW ADMISSIONS IN UGANDA
148 people are currently hospitalised due to COVID-19 despite the high number of positive cases being reported, this is according to records from the Ministry of Health.
According to records, as of December 25, over 148 positive cases are admitted nationwide in treatment facilities despite over 5,400 cases reported in the week 20-26 December 2021.
Dr. Rose Byanyimma, the Executive Director of Mulago National Referral Hospital and also the head of the COVID-19 treatment facility says they have few patients at the hospital.
“At Mulago, we have 30 patients admitted as of yesterday and of these only 2 are admitted to the ICU while others are at the High Dependency Unit. We are seeing few patients at the moment compared to before but this situation can easily change,” she said.
Some other hospitals in the country with covid-19 cases include Entebbe with 118 cases as of Monday. The Principal Hospital Administrator, Muhammed Mubiru says the patients are all receiving care.
Prof Pontiano Kaleebu, the Executive Director of the Uganda Virus Research Institute says that despite the low number of people admitted due to the disease, the public needs to remain cautious.
“Sequencing that we have recently carried out shows that Omicron is now the dominant variant in the country but we are still studying the variant to find out more about it. But as we do this, people should not panic. This variant is just like SARS-COV 2 and can be prevented by wearing a mask, washing hands, and avoiding public places,” he said.
According to the World Health Organization, the Omicron variant is transmissible by 30 times. The variant however is likely to show more symptoms than the Delta variant.
During the second wave when the Delta variant was more prevalent in the country, the demand for oxygen rose. A cylinder of medical oxygen that previously cost 100,000 shillings went for as high as 1 Million Shillings.
Dr. Byanyima intimated that patients infected with the Omicron variant might not need oxygen.
“During Delta, many patients had low levels of oxygen and needed support, that is why there was an increase in demand for it but now what we see is that many of these patients don’t require oxygen but present with other symptoms.”
Dr. Byanyima says that the most common symptom that patients show is a headache and body weakness. She says many of the patients are willing to stay longer in the hospital compared to others during previous waves.
According to WHO, the Omicron variant has been reported in over 118 countries in the world. While the variant seems to spread faster than other variants of concern, the rate at which it causes the severe or critical disease is lower.