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Only Visitors, Tourists Wear Face Masks in Kalangala

Health experts recommend that people should wear masks in public settings especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. According to medics, the masks may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others.
Men gather without social distancing at the town centre in Senero village

Audio 5

Wearing a face mask at Kalangala Islands spontaneously show that you are a stranger. Here, life is normal with seemingly no threat of Coronavirus Disease-COVID-19, among the locals. 

A mask is considered a luxury for those in food markets, trading centres, and on the streets, except for those who are travelling to the mainland, in Entebbe or Masaka, despite the increasing cases of the disease, which is mainly spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. Uganda has so far recorded close to 3,000 cases of COVID-19. 

Health experts recommend that people should wear masks in public settings especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. According to medics, the masks may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others. 

But leaders in the island district say that enforcement of the requirement is a tall order. They observe that there is a high level of laxity among the population to adhere to the guidelines of social distancing and wearing face masks, yet markets are operating normally, and all kinds of social gatherings are still being held. 

At Kalangala Town Council, people without face masks gather in cliques around various hangout joints and restaurants. Meanwhile, some of the area residents cite politics, among other reasons for not wearing face masks, or following social distancing guidelines. 

Senero village chairperson Richard Wasswa says that the residents were more cautious in March when Kalangala recorded its first and only confirmed case so far; Eng. Charles Banya Lwanga, a local investor who tested positive after returning from North America. 73 people in Senero village including Wasswa were quarantined as his contacts.       

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William Mubiru, a father of two says that most residents are not cautious about observing the anti-COVID-19 measures. 

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Cue out...emisomo."// 

However, it was observed that majority of residents in Mwena and Kalangala Town Council comply with the night curfew, to the extent that by 8:30 pm there is a handful of people on the streets.  Some of those in the streets are sex workers, taxi and truck drivers and food vendors.     

Now, the Resident District Commissioner for Kalangala, Daniel Kikoola blames the laxity on weak enforcement of the preventive measures against coronavirus disease-COVID-19 mainly due to the low number of police officers in the island district.    

Over 640,000 people live in 64 of the 84 islands of Kalangala. However, Kikoola says that there are less than 50 police officers in the entire district to enforce the anti-COVID-19 measures. In addition to being very thin on the ground, high transport costs limit reinforcement to the various islands.             

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Kikoola says that there is a need to carry out fresh mass sensitization because the community seems to have “forgotten” that COVID-19 is a lethal disease.         

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He is, however, urging Benon Byamukama, the District Police Commander and his colleagues to arrest and prosecute people who are defying the guidelines to restore sanity in the community. Early this month, six residents at Mama Muwada’s bar, almost 200 meters from Kalangala Central Police Station reportedly beat Byamukama up when he attempted to enforce the guidelines. 

However, Kikoola says the arrest of the six people was not enough to deter other defiant residents. He adds that some people in the community accuse police officers of extortion during night patrols and at checkpoints.

                   

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Cue out...bagala ssente"//       

               

Byamukama declined to comment on the matter.