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.
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
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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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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.