Special Writer

Government  will not enforce a  Covid-19 pandemic related  lockdown during the charismas holidays, but the curfew and all set SOPs shall remain in force throughout the festive season -the Minister of Information and National Guidance , Ms. Judith Nabakooba has announced .   

In her weekly national media  briefings held at the Ministry of ICT & NG head offices in Kampala , Nabakooba  said that government doesn’t intend to lockdown the country again over the rising cases of Covid -19 that has claimed the lives of over 200 Ugandans and left more than 20,000 people sick across the country .

“ There wont be a Lockdown during the Christmas Season but be extra careful with family events and travel,” Nabakooba stated adding that the number of people dying on a daily basis is far more than those that are being officially recorded. “Discotheques and music concerts are still under lockdown and not allowed to operate. For those travelling, ensure that you follow all the guidance on masks and social distancing,” She stressed

The Ministry of health estimates that there are more un known COVID-19 deaths in the community,  treatment centers in the public and private hospitals are full to capacity and the number of critically ill people that need oxygen on a 24-hour basis has exceeded the available capacity.

UG.Shs. 22M is the cost of treating one covid-19 critically ill patient

Nabakooba also revealed that government spends about 22 million shillings for every critically ill COVID-19 patient that is admitted on Oxygen. This is the money spent on treating each patient for the entire time spent in the High Dependency Unit on oxygen. For the private hospitals, critically ill patients are spending about 5 million shillings daily in order to stay on oxygen.

“Everyone must therefore understand that COVID-19 is not a cheap disease. Going by the costs, it is obvious that majority of Ugandans cannot afford this treatment. Even when you get admitted to the High Dependency and Intensive care units, the chances of survival are less than 50%,” she explained  adding that if one contracted COVID-19 today and it progresses to the critical stage, the possibility of death is certain.

But Nabakooba assured Ugandans that government is doing everything possible to bring down the high number of  infections .  “Government of Uganda is doing its best. As of today, so far 29 million masks have been distributed out of the 35 million target set in June. The balance of 6 million will be made available to the public very soon.” She advised those  that cant afford to buy  masks to keep away from any public activities.

Government is also set to  procure  an additional 1,000 beds for the High Dependency Units in  public hospitals. The High Dependency Units accommodate critically ill patients that require 24-hour supply of oxygen.

The Minister said government was also  monitoring the progress with the COVID-19 Vaccine.” Uganda expects to obtain the first batch of the Vaccine by May or June 2021, She said and hastened to add that priority will be given to frontline medical workers, the elderly and people with existing health conditions.

Nabakooba also paid tribute to the fallen Ugandan leaders including the late 2nd Deputy Prime Minister Alhaji Ali Kirunda Kivenjinja. “Kivenjinja has been a temple of wisdom that provided regular guidance to government. Uganda has lost a strong cadre, a strong Pan Africanist who believed in a strong and unified Africa,” She said while also sending condolences to the bereaved family of the late  legislator, Ms. Robina Ssentogo- Woman Member of Parliament for Kyotera.

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