Four-time presidential candidate and Forum for Democratic Change strongman, Dr. Kizza Besigye has said both government and the population are equally to blame for the lost Coronavirus battle.
A few days ago, President Museveni announced a second lockdown of the country to control the spread of the deadly virus.
Whereas Uganda was praised over its efforts in ensuring low deaths and transmission of the infection during the first wave of the pandemic, things have however gone out of hand in the past few months, prompting the imposition of a lockdown.
Addressing journalists on Wednesday, Besigye, a professional doctor explained that whereas no so much was done, the country was able to control the first wave but noted there was laxity which he said accounts for the lost battle to the deadly virus.
“The number of sick was declining and at some stage, there were no people in hospital. Government started jubilating of having done a wonderful job of containing the virus. On the other side, the population was skeptical saying government had lied to them and that there was no Covid,”Besigye said.
The four-time presidential candidate said this state of affairs made matters worse because many people became complacent and stopped following the government guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures aimed at controlling the spread of the virus.
“We never learnt any lessons (from the first wave). After the first wave, nobody was caring anymore about how to stop the spread. If you were seen putting on a mask, you were thought to be funny. The mutated virus got a free hand to spread around the country. We now have more deaths and hospitalization,” he observed.
Explains lost battle
Besigye, a holder of a Bachelor’s degree in human medicine from the prestigious Makerere University explained that people become sick due to the aggressiveness of a disease, how many agents of the disease they take into their bodies and how prepared their bodies are for the disease.
“Even if the disease or virus, in this case, is aggressive but you take in little into your body, effects will not be too much. If you wear a mask, it protects you from getting the virus and even if you take in a little (because the mask controls it), the effect will not be too much. The issue of body immunity also helps the body fight the virus and this determines how sick you will be,” Besigye explains.
“It appears Coronavirus from China was not very aggressive to Africans in Africa. Its aggressiveness was not very high. Whereas it killed people in Italy, America and elsewhere, it didn’t cause much here. We are a young population unlike those countries and body ability to fight decreases with age.”
He however explained that because of the effects of the first wave on our economy like the lockdown, people’s immunity systems weakened.
“The lockdown weakened our economy. Having had a year of suffering, people have been weakened. Many were laid off work whereas others’ businesses collapsed. This created a vulnerable situation among many people and when the second wave of the mutated virus came, it has affected many people since their immune systems were affected by the lockdown.”
“Having had a year of suffering (first wave), people have been weakened and are more fragile than they were last year. Businesses were crippled; people were laid off their jobs. We are therefore dealing with a vulnerable population. The economic hardships have weakened the people and that’s why even the young are getting serious diseases.”
The four-time presidential candidate said that despite all the country went through in the first wave of the pandemic last year, lessons have not been learnt, adding that this is going to further affect the country.
According to Besigye, the first wave should have prepared the country for the worst by improving the health system and equipping hospitals but said unfortunately this was not done.
“The beds they say are in hospitals countrywide are too few for the million people we have. We have not learnt any lessons. We have the same institutional problems for managing a crisis. We are in a serious situation as a country since our medical frontline workers have been crying themselves hoarse for lack of personal protective equipment and allowances.”
He however advised that there is need for a change of plan by government and the population on how to handle the pandemic.
Besigye insisted that the population should now devise their own means of surviving, other than waiting for government whose officials he said don’t seem to care.
“We need a more robust response by all of us if we are to get out of this. Those using our resources in government don’t have population in their mind. They are only planning for a small population of Ugandans. This is not a partisan problem because all Ugandans are impacted. We all must get together and fight for our survival. By being complacent, the problem will not solve itself. We should act together to get ourselves out of this dilemma,” he advised.
Ray of hope
Dr Besigye’s remarks however come at a time when there seems to be a ray of hope in the Covid fight in the country after the total number of positive cases declined in the past seven days.
A total of 5,174 Covid cases were reported in the country between June 21 and 27 whereas 7,770 cases were reported the previous week.
Data from the Ministry of Health has also indicated that the country 543 new Covid cases on June 28 whereas the number of new deaths have continued to be high with 34 people killed by the virus on that day.