MARACHA – Maracha District Health Officer (DHO) has cautioned that despite Uganda’s excellent performance in containing the spread of COVID-19, long-distance drivers and commercial sex workers are likely to endanger the Pearl of Africa.
Dr. Onzubo Paul, on Monday, April 20, voiced his worries during the district COVID-19 taskforce meeting.
“There is this branch of medicine called epidemiology. It tells us who is likely to be affected in terms of persons, places and so on. In the person, we are looking at quite a number of characteristics but in this particular case, we now know that among other challenging behaviours, the persons who are likely to bring us this disease are; long-distance truck drivers, their relatives and friends, sex workers plus their clients, relatives, friends and people working in lodges” the DHO lamented adding that though the government ordered lodges to be closed during this period of lockdown, some brothels are in illegal business.
The financial crisis during this time and lack of other clients leaves sex workers without any choice than to risk their lives with truck drivers as a sole customers to earn a living and survive starvation during the lockdown.
Dr. Paul observed that once a truck driver gets in conduct with a thigh venders, the chain of contacts grows fast and long that by the time the matter becomes to light, multitudes would have been infected.
“the list gets long with clients, friends and relatives. So, there is a need for us to focus on these particular persons, it’s Paramount to tarcle these issues.
Other groups equally likely to endanger the community, Dr. Paul said are the security forces and medical staff who, by virtue of their work, get into contact with infected persons.
He warned security and health officers to take extra care on duty while handling COVID-19 cases.
Dr. Paul was briefying the District COVID-19 Taskforce in relation to events where two truck drivers, one from Tanzania and another from Kenya were intercepted on reports of their COVID-19 positive results.
After one of the contracts of the Tanzianian driver was arrested at Vura customs and transferred to Kampala on orders of Arua district political leadership, Dr. Paul said similar cases are bound to occur in the region.
He said reckless handling of COVID-19 cases and dead bodies by any party might result into the pandemic trickling in the community and become very difficult to contain.
“we are better safe by preventing this pandemic than allowing it to spread among the rural community and become unmanagerable” the DHO said.
He also looks at the scarce resources in the district coupled with defiance of the community to adhere to health regulations and negative traditional norms as other factors that are likely aid speedy spread of the pandemic once it losses control.
Dr. Advised the community to caution relatives in sex trade to beware of truck drivers lest the cause demise of the entire citizens of Uganda.
On a similar scenario, the Resident District Commissioner for Maracha, Cherop Esther Soet pointed at the porous border areas with neighbouring countries of the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan as obvious entry ruotes for COVID-19, into Uganda.
“our neighbor, DRC has registered several deaths of COVID-19, South Sudan lacks testing facilities and it’s hard to know actual prevelence in the country yet we have porous borders and admant community who constantly keep sneaking into DRC and coming back. Even people from South Sudan find their ways into Uganda through ungazzetted routes, this puts us at risk” The RDC intimated.
Red Pepper had independently established that markets and Church services are still open to the public in Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.
Ugandans take advantage of the lack of lockdown in the neighbourhood to smuggle goods, go to attend to their gardens, funerals of relatives and Church services across.
According to intelligence reports, Ugandans have mastered the “modes Operandi” of the security forces deployed to man the borderline and are well versed with their numbers that they travel to and from DRC and back at their time when the forces are either asleep at midnight or have moved to far distance.
For the Congolese, they can’t object their relatives from across the border to visit them since blood is thicker than water and the people who believe we’re separated by the white man have lived together in sorrow and joy, since time in memorial.
In South Sudan, Red Pepper has learnt from reliable sources that the leaders there have only declared inter-state lockdown, meaning there is free movements of people and vehicles within a state.
Due to lack of essential resources like food among others, the citizens find their way into Uganda to join their relatives in refugee camps to survive on the support from United Nations and others stay with wealthy relatives in Urban areas.