“The message has sunk in so deeply that even people who wander the streets and are considered mentally unsound don face masks.”
By Francis Isaano
Traders in Kampala have started to comply with the presidential directive that all people who work in markets stay overnight at their place of work.
President Yoweri Museveni declared a national lockdown on Friday, June 18 to combat a surge in Coronavirus infections in the country.
Uganda, as of June 17, has registered 70,176 Covid-19 cases with 1,397 testing positive on Thursday. At least 626 Ugandans have succumbed to Covid-19 since the virus made its presence known in the country in March 2020.
In his directive, President Museveni barred movement of public transport and private vehicles. The only vehicles expected on the roads are emergency and essential services vehicles.
He also directed that many Kikuubo and other downtown shopping arcades and buildings cease work for the next 42 days.
In a concession, he instructed that traders of fresh food could continue to work but temporarily live at their stations of work.
This is where our reporter Francis Isaano found many making the best of a challenging national situation.
As the traders and country wait to see how the country’s COVID-19 situation will stand on August 1 at the end of the lockdown, work continues in some fashion.
The message has sunk in so deeply that this reporter even saw people who wander the streets and are considered mentally unsound donning face masks.
Nearly everyone at Nakasero market where this reporter spent much of his day and night were also attired in face masks.
Face masks are among the recommended measures by the health ministry to reduce the risk of contracting the airborne Covid-19.
While there was limited vehicular traffic in this part of Kampala, nonetheless dazed Ugandans rushing to do last minute shopping were out in force on Saturday morning.
Unlike in the first lockdown of March 2020 that would last all year almost, police and army conduct was restrained. While urging people to go back home, there was no visible use of brute force. No tear gas or bullets rang in the air and claimed lives like sometimes happened in 2020.
As the day wound down, the traders prepared to return to a life apart from their families. To get through the night, many of them wear more than one undergarment. Sisal sacks that previously transported food become sleeping bags. A sack of Irish potatoes will be turned into a pillow.
Clearly, the observance of the 42 days of national lockdown has begun. The traders here intend to weather this storm too.