IAN ORTEGA: We are too poor to afford lockdowns, open up if we die, we die!

Ian Ortega Courtesy PHOTO/File
By :
Ian Ortega

I was against the Lockdown right from the start. Although I praised Dr. Aceng for her efforts, we disagreed the moment Uganda declared a lockdown.

I have been saying the same thing over and over again; “we are too poor to afford lockdowns.” I came back to shout; “COVID-19 won’t kill Ugandans, our reactions and measures will kill Ugandans.” Not to be outdone, I still cried out; “Lockdowns cannot be our long-term strategy.” Once again, I warned that there was too much fear being spread, that we were inviting too much control by government in our lives. Then I talked about the cash-cow that is Lockdowns and COVID-19.

On Tuesday next week, the two additional weeks will elapse. But what will have changed? The cases have continued to grow every passing day. There is no clear solution for the truck drivers. And there has been no scale up on the community testing.

As of Tuesday, less than 0.001% of Ugandans have been tested. That implies that for many asymptomatic cases, they have probably recovered and developed anti-bodies. But it also implies that we are unable to know the full reach of the virus. It is highly likely that a number of you reading this are currently walking around with the virus unknowingly. Put simply, after over 40 days of a Lockdown, we still don’t have the slightest idea about the virus in this country. If you have less than 0.001% of your population tested with no plans to scale up, you can as well abandon testing altogether!

Time will prove me right on many things. First and foremost, that the total lockdown was useless in the first place and achieved no clear results. That banning private transportation had no impact on limiting the spread of the virus. That Lockdowns were a cost only the rich could afford. But above all, that COVID-19 was in Uganda much earlier than we thought.

On Tuesday, I will have two questions for the President and his team;

1. If you choose to open up, what is the basis for the re-opening? If you have tested less than 0.001%, what is driving your decision? If you can’t find a solution for truck drivers, why re-open? What have you done differently from the time you closed till now when you are re-opening? Have you doubled number of tests? Have you carried out anti-body testing? Have you increased hospital capacity? Have you developed faster and cheaper testing kits?

2. If you choose to keep the country locked-down, what are you doing differently? Are you planning to triple the number of tests? Are you planning to carry out antibodies tests? Are you planning to provide food to everyone? Are you planning to cushion businesses and employees who are now out of jobs? Have you figured out a way to shorten recovery time for covid-19? What have we achieved from the past days when we’ve been locked-down? What is the long-term solution assuming the vaccine is still months away?

I am certain the President won’t have an answer to any of the questions. In this case, we could as well save ourselves the trouble and face the virus head on. From the look of things, we are delaying the inevitable, COVID-19 has come to stay, we can’t fight it anymore by hiding at home under the guise of a poorly executed lockdown led by blind figures.

Open up, if we die, we die!

A graduate of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering from Kyambogo University, Ortega, Founder of Big Eye is a regular columnist and socio-political commentator with Daily Monitor.

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