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Doctors, ministry of Health call for X-mas lockdown

Doctors are calling upon government to re-institute another national lockdown as a means to curb the spread of COVID-19 during the Christmas holidays.

According to doctors under the Uganda Medical Association (UMA), cases of COVID-19 are set to increase due to the Christmas holiday and ongoing political campaigns. They now want the government to institute a lockdown a few days to Christmas that will then be lifted later in January next year.

The doctors’ plea is similar to that made by the ministry of Health and some politicians last week. Dr Frank Assimwe, a surgeon and also the chairperson in charge of welfare at UMA, says that a lockdown needs to be instituted to stop further spread of COVID-19 especially upcountry.

He says if nothing is done, the country is going to experience a spike in COVID-19 cases that will stress an already stressed health system. Assimwe says the lockdown will act as a circuit breaker that will cut the spread of the disease. He says it will enable the government to plan better for the increased number of cases that will be reported in January 2021.

Dr Richard Idro, the president of the UMA, says the country is overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases at the moment and may not be able to handle any big surges in cases. He says protecting the lives of people needs to become a personal initiative. Idro says the health system is currently incapacitated, underfunded and overwhelmed.

Dr Monica Musenero, an epidemiologist and also a senior presidential advisor on epidemics, says that travel during Christmas will take the virus from urban centres to villages where the number of infections has been next to non-existent.

Instead of travelling, the doctors say that people in urban areas should look for alternative socially distanced means to celebrate the festive season with their loved ones. Dr Robert Lubega, deputy secretary-general, UMA says that people in urban areas should resort to sending money to loved ones.

“Instead of travelling and taking COVID with you, people can resort to sending mobile money. Send your people money. They will enjoy as much as you in Kampala. The money you send them for Christmas be less compared to what you might spend on treating them,” Dr Lubega said.

Countries like the United Kingdom that instituted second lockdowns when Covid cases began to increase have partially lifted the lockdown for five days during the festive system. On December 27, 2020, the UK will go under lockdown again. Families are also being encouraged to celebrate in smaller numbers.

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