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Politicians fuelled current Covid-19 resurgence – Experts

Covid-19 patient under treatment in a health unit.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The resurgence of COVID-19 infections that have thrown the country into panic mode could have been avoided if politicians had listened to scientific reasoning during the recent election cycle.

While daily COVID-19 positive cases had fallen to the lows of less than ten cases each day in early March and COVID-19 treatment centres closed, the daily case reports recently went up to the highs of more than a thousand cases on some days even as general testing had gone down limiting it to travelers, those with symptoms and those attending official functions.

Prof. Freddie Ssengooba, a scientific advisor to the Ministry of Health said that the trend can only be blamed on the just concluded political season.

Ssengooba who is also an expert in health policy and systems management based at the Makerere University School of Public Health says the exact extent of infections is still unknown. He adds that since May, numbers have been increasing and clinics are now admitting complicated cases in places that are ungazzatted for, and the only reliable data available is that of admissions.

He adds that the partial lockdown that involves closure of schools and restrictions in movement starting Thursday may not help much since the country is currently unaware of the real extent of the problem. He adds that for future epidemics and pandemics, researchers should be thinking of modalities to tame politics since during this pandemic, it became impossible to suspend the political season despite recommendations from experts.

Not suspending politics he says undid a lot of efforts that had been put in perception change which experts are still struggling with even as death and severe disease are on an increase.

However, experts are now calling for strong communication campaigns to influence behaviour change because they say the pandemic can be reversed by simple practices like washing hands, social distancing and wearing masks appropriately.

But behavioral scientist Dr Joseph Matovu says the Ministry of Health has not done enough regarding perception change. Even at this point of resurgence, the media is still running messages urging people to go for vaccination. For him, policymakers should be as fast as the pandemic if the country is to manage the second wave that is threatening to hit crisis levels.

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