As always, when I wake up in the morning, I go to twitter to check the Ministry of Health page for the latest cases of new infections of the corona virus. Last week I almost got the creeps seeing 11 new confirmed cases! Eleven! That is the highest number we have registered in a day! To make matters worse, these are not infections from Ugandans but rather imported cases brought in by truck drivers from Kenya and Tanzania. Six (6) of them are from Tanzania and five (5) are from Kenya!
Since last week, Ugandans on twitter have spent days debating the reasons government was reluctant to stop the truck drivers at the border seeing that all of our latest new cases are brought in by them. Secondly, Kenya and Tanzania have not exercised the same discipline in containing the virus as Uganda has done. Pombe Magufuli of Tanzania for example believes that prayer can save his people who up to now still gather in churches and places of worship in masses. Our fears were that the good we have achieved is going to be undone by the recklessness of our neighbors. And we were right. Eleven (11) new cases in a single day is quite a lot. We have had 46 recoveries and were on the way to zero active cases but alas this new count takes us back to 28 active cases with hundreds of potential infected people to look out for!
President Museveni should quickly summon his Health team to deal decisively with this gleak. Last week Health officials met and it looks like nothing decisive was made on the matter. We understand that EAC Ministers of Health are scheduled to have a meeting. The general feeling still is that we need to keep the goods coming in even if it risks undoing all the good we have achieved. Funny enough, the World Health Organization has also forced us to claim these imported cases as our own and probably treat them from here. Why? We should not be bearing the burden of reckless neighbors!
The president and his team have argued previously that keeping truck drivers at the border for longer hours - it takes to get their test results incurs unnecessary costs to the companies. As citizens who have been on lock-down for weeks without earning a living, we feel that such an excuse is inconsiderate to our sacrifices thus far. Surely, the companies that are minting money from this business can wait for some hours. After-all, who will consume the goods they are importing if we are all sick or dead?
Museveni and his team must henceforth bring to halt these truck drivers and devise a workable solution. If they cannot wait the hours it takes for results to be back, then maybe they can just load their cargo containers at the border and we have a ready team of Ugandan tested truck drivers to pick it up and take it to the next destination. We need any other solution other than one that allows potentially infected truck drivers to roam our streets risking infecting more people and adding pressure to our health system.
I am looking forward to yet another Presidential Press Conference where Mzee Museveni will announce a decisive measure against truck drivers. Yes, I do not care if he accompanies it with hours of Runyankore lessons and revisiting of previous interventions and bush war stories. At least we shall be alive to listen.
This article was originally written by Mr. Ronald Seguya and posted on his personal site, here.