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Fear of another lockdown

Ignored cost of lockdowns

Imposition of such severe policies is easy but lazy. It does not factor in the opportunity cost of the policy and does not reflect deep strategic thinking.

Covid-19 is hurting the Uganda economy badly, according to a business survey report released by the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) on 12 May. It showed 75% percent of businesses lying off workers. The economy has shrunk by over 40% from the 5.4% average GDP growth of the last four year to 3.1% GDP growth projected for the Financial Year ending June 20.

What is happening elsewhere shows that sending children back to school, reopening businesses, and opening places of worship does not necessarily lead to spikes in COVID-19 infections if recommended behavioural changes are met.

A lockdown to prevent the increase of COVID infection must have clear context sensitive objectives. It should have consider the behavior and culture of Ugandans, their economic status, how they travel and trade, and the health service options available to them.

Another 60-day lockdown such as Ugandans have endured is quite long, according to most expert knowledge. They recommend it only for rich economies where people are able to survive indoors for long.

According to experts, what could work for Uganda are short lockdowns of about 40 days, then a 40-day `smart lockdown’ that allows about 50% of normal activities to resume, and the another 40-day lockdown. There is also the option of a `medium’ lockdown such as we have now. The main objective is to control contacts.

The COVID -19 lockdown planners need to factor in this. Instead most of the talk, for example is on the limited number of hospital beds. Planners like Dr. Musenero are concerned that Uganda currently can only manage 2,000 COVD-19 cases at a time with 120 Intensive Care Unit-ICU beds to handle severe cases.

According to officials from the Ministry of Health, Uganda has prepared 9,000 beds spread in the various health facilities to deal with COVID-19 cases if there is a spike in numbers.

Speaking during the 9th June Heroes’ Day celebrations at State House Entebbe, President Museveni advised that these beds are too few, and instead advised that the Ministry should prepare for at least 41,000 beds for COVID-19, and directed that Namboole Stadium should be turned into a temporary hospital for this pandemic.

But Dr Obuku says Uganda has a mild form of COVID-19 and therefore more patients can be managed at home than in hospitals.

“Only the seriously ill should be in hospitals,” he says.

The main issue that Uganda needs to tackle, according to experts is the develop capacity to assess the risk involved in any policy decision made.

Measuring the COVID-19 threat

Ability to assess risk has enabled many countries, some with far more active cases of COVID-19 infection than Uganda, to lift lockdowns.

As of 10 June, South Africa had 55,421 confirmed Coronavirus COVID-19 cases and 1,210 related deaths. It was recording over 2000 new cases each day. But as of June 01 schools re-opened in a phased manner. Italy which lost over 40,000 people to covid and continues to lose about 300 daily has reopened restaurants, bars, cafes, hairdressers and shops. Some countries, such as Sweden, have not imposed any lockdown. So why is Uganda insisting on lockdown while other countries are easing them?

“The difference lies in the individual’s willingness to take responsibility for one’s health,” says a report titled ‘The reproduction number of COVID-19 and its correlation with public health interventions’ released on May 01 by MedRxiv , an online archiving organisation for manuscripts (preprints) in the medical, clinical, and related health sciences.

The research is built around what has been described as a “simple but crucial number at the heart of understanding the threat posed by the coronavirus”.

The magic number is called the “reproduction number”. It’s the number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to, on average. It can also measure the strength of public health measures to help shape policies to contain a pandemic.

“It is guiding governments around the world on the actions needed to save lives and to lift lockdown,” one writer, James Gallagher, said of it.

The model is built around how many people in a given population are Susceptible, Exposed, Infected, and the Expected recoveries, hence its abbreviation `SEIR’.

It considers the health status of individuals (age, prevalence of other diseases) and control measures imposed (physical distancing, hand-washing, quarantine, curfew and lock down).

Such mathematical models have been used during the outbreak of COVID–19 in China, Italy and other countries to give direction to policy and decision makers in government institutions.

Measles has one of the highest numbers with a reproduction number of 15 in populations without immunity. It can cause explosive outbreaks. But estimates vary depending on conditions in each country.

It is the same with the new coronavirus, known officially as Sars-CoV-2. It has been calculated to have a reproduction number of about 03 in Europe.

“Even though it is important, it seems complicated to arrive at a precise, calculated value due to data limitations and reporting inaccuracies,” the researchers say.

According to the researchers, changes in any country, culture, type of calculation and outbreak stage can affect the reported reproductive number with highly differing magnitudes.

But that has not stopped some Ugandan researchers from attempting it. They published their findings in a paper titled `A Mathematical Model Approach for Prevention and Intervention Measures of the COVID–19 Pandemic in Uganda’.

In the case of Uganda, the researchers considered that the COVID–19 epidemic is in its early stage of spread, the majority of these cases are imported, including by truck drivers, and community transmission is through their contacts although extent remains unknown.

The researchers concluded that the Reproductive Number is 0.468. That is good news.

If the number is below 01, the outbreak will continue but at a lower rate, since less than 01 infected case follows the resolution of an earlier case by death or recovery. If the R0 is above 1, each infection breeds more, and the outbreak will continue to grow.

The researchers forecast that several strategies used in combination; such as travel restrictions, mass media awareness, community buy–in and medical health interventions, should eliminate the disease from the population.

In the Uganda case, the model predicts a recurrence of the disease after one year and two months (430 days) and says the population has to be mindful and continuously practice the prevention and control measures. But the modeling was done in March – before the current spike in numbers.

10 comments

  1. The SOLUTION is simple- TELL President Museveni, “NO MORE LOCKDOWNS” nor silly Masks, which do more harm than good, nor “Social Distancing” whicih is designed only to make people FEAR each other, PERIOD !

    Does it not make you suspicious when they call it “Social Distancing” rather than “Physical Distancing” ??? The KEY WORD is “Social”

    How has Mankind survived, advanced and even increased in population, for millions of years, without that nonsense, before???

    TRUTH ? The WEALTHY and POWERFUL are creating this COVID and other FRAUDS,, such as WARS, because they are AFRAID of losing their CONTROL over us as our Growing NUMBERS, KNOWLEDGE and DISCERNMENT present a threat to their Slave SYSTEM hold on us.

    Your COUSINS in America are starting to see that truth

    • I have just read a scientific article describing how people who believe in conspiracy theories, such as the views of FREESPIRIT have a Fundamental Cognitive Problem

      • Have you ever “Read”‘ in “Scientific articles” about “‘GATEKEEPERS”and./or “Controlled Opposition” ??

        You have much to learn,sonny !

        I have been spreading TRUTH, such as that, since the late 1960’s ,probably when you weren’t even a “TWINKLE “in your Mommy and Daddy’ eyes. I’m 79 years young

        If you are Black African then you should be ashamed of yourself, DELIBERATELY leading your BRETHREN astray, on behalf the WEALTHY Supremacist CORRUPT WHITE Zionist man

        You do know what a ZIONIST is, do you not?

        Here is Brother Nathanel, a former Jew, telling TRUTH about “His” people: http://www.realjewnews.com/?p=1446

        I’m guessing you believe you KNOW MORE than he does ,about his own “People and that he is a Conspiracy Theorist also ?

        If you consider yourself a Journalist, or “wannabe”, my suggestion is get another Job.

        Thanks for you infantile nonsense however

  2. I think there shouldnt be reopening of schools for more safty. All the measures like buying radios and tvs is a waste of resourses and it will cause a lot of enemities among ugandan. Lets some money be used for school mentainance creation of more schools as school resume next year after the pamdamic

  3. Educate yourself from ignorance and stupidity otherwise we shall decorate our graves and multiple the grave.

  4. let them supply the masks to the whole country not within kampala city only

  5. President’s guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19 virus are very fine and effective BUT the problem is the people he is working with, some of them are just selfish and others are his best enemies, they are trying very hard to destroy his image. forexample: the maize flour that he sent to communities did not reach the people as he the president had suggested instead the maize flour was sold and the other balance is kept in their stores? as if that was not enough, the president suggested that free masks be distributed to border districts during his last speech to the community that beginning with 9th June all the border districts shall receive masks, where are they? Rukungiri District is among the border district but we have never received anything. Is it because of our leaders? RDCs should check up if we are to get ride of this pandemic disease of COVID 19. LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOURS AS YOU LOVE YOURSELF! GOD’S COMMANDMENT.

  6. We must learn to stay with corona virus
    Just like fluenza.

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