By Goodluck Musinguzi

Many people are not putting on masks on the streets in the suburbs of the main towns of Uganda. One person with a mask is among 30 or more people without.

The Ministry of Health announced Stage 4, whereCovid19 spread is practically uncontrollable and there are many major clusters of infection all over the country.

Minister for ICT and National Guidance Judith Nabakooba said that the country is now receiving various community infections that are almost impossible to trace which puts the country at risk.

“Now that Uganda has entered this critical phase, the Ministry of Health is preparing to announce a series of measures that the country will follow in order to keep safe,” Nabakooba said.

The Government of Uganda has worked so hard to make everyone understand the Coronavirus (Covid19) pandemic. They have used age-appropriate information to talk about the virus and ways to protect themselves and others from it. By now, most families must be knowing how to use masks and dangers of not wearing them, washing hands and keeping distance(Standard Operating Procedures).

What Can I Say to Someone Who Isn’t Wearing a Mask?

Everyone in my family wears a face mask when we living our house. Face coverings are mandatory in many public areas, but we sometimes see people without them. How can I explain this to my children, who understand how important coronavirus has kept them out of school for a year. And those people who get close to us or enter our home without masks, what do we say to someone without a mask gets close to us? I don’t want conflict, but it’s a concern to see people who aren’t covering their faces in public, said Matina.

Families with individuals suffering from Covid19 tell stories that are painful. The sick who who advance to Intensive Care Units are out of reach, they communicate with a phone to any one out of the hospital.

There’s still much to learn about Covid19 as a new disease. Many scientists have warned people not to celebrate yet as it may take time before the vaccine is available for everyone. Until then, wearing masks or cloth face coverings are helping stop the spread of COVID-19.

So it can be frustrating to see people who aren’t following the advice of medical experts. Why won’t some people mask up? Experts think it could be due to things like:

  • not believing that COVID-19 is a serious illness
  • feeling like their area is safe or has only a few infections
  • disliking some of the effects of face covering (like making it feel harder to breathe, or thinking they aren’t heard or understood)
  • a reaction to what they feel is too much government control
  • not agreeing that masks help prevent the spread of coronavirus
  • not wanting to show fear or vulnerability
  • confusion because early public health recommendations didn’t include masking

While most of us can and should wear masks when in public, some people cannot. This includes children under 2 years old, someone who is sick and has trouble breathing, and anyone who can’t take a mask off without help.

Because you know that you might see people out and about without masks, try to talk to your kids about it before you leave your house. That way, you can have a plan ready and avoid possible conflicts. Teach your kids to expect to move away from anyone not wearing a mask. If you’re at a park or other open-air spot, getting 6 feet away should be easy.

But what if you’re in a tighter space, or are in a situation that’s harder to move away from (for instance, in line in a store)? Here are some ideas:

If it’s someone you know or feel comfortable with:

  • Start by acknowledging what they dislike about masks. After all, few of us enjoy wearing them. Then, use empathy to make a case for everyone “being in this together.”
  • Talk about how covering our noses and mouths protects our most at-risk friends and family, like the elderly and those with other health conditions. Remind them: “Wearing a mask does seem to give me some protection. But mostly, I wear my mask to protect you and other people I care about.”
  • Keep it friendly but firm. You could say, “It would really make me feel better if you had a mask on.” Or, “Since you don’t have a mask on, let’s continue this conversation at a further distance or via email.”
  • Consider keeping clean homemade or disposable masks on hand to offer to a friend who’s not wearing one.
  • If someone still won’t cover up, it’s OK to say that your social “bubble” includes only those who follow the safety precautions. Say you’ll hope to see them again as soon as the pandemic is over. Then stick to it — keep your precautions in place, even if it means not seeing someone you care about for a while.

If it’s someone you don’t know:

  • If you’re shopping, look for security personnel or other store employees who can speak to customers who aren’t wearing a face covering.
  • Do not use public shaming, bullying, or threatening to try to change the person’s behavior.
  • Ask someone who is not masked to please stand back or please stand away from you. If they won’t or it’s not possible to keep 6 feet away, leave.
  • If a store’s masking policies seem lax, contact the manager or owner of the business and explain your concerns. If you don’t feel they’ll address them, take your business elsewhere.
  • If an employee isn’t wearing a mask or isn’t wearing one properly (over their mouth and nose), ask them to do so. If they won’t, bring the problem to the manager’s attention.
  • If you’re uncomfortable with a lack of masking or physical distance, be prepared to leave. Even if you’ve got a cart full of groceries, it’s not worth putting your family in an upsetting or potentially dangerous situation.

If someone got angry when asked to wear a mask, talk to your Children about it afterward. Explain that this is new territory for everyone. Someone who reacts badly might be missing loved ones, have lost their job, or be stressed about something that’s not related to wearing a mask. Reassure your kids that in most cases, these reactions aren’t personal.

Remind them that the good news is that most people are wearing masks in public and taking other precautions. By being careful, your family and most others are doing all they can to help stop coronavirus.

Rt Hon Dr Ruhakana Rugunda ,Prime Minister of Uganda has rolled out the creation of Village Covid 19 Taskforces as part of the implementation of the Community Engagement Strategy to fight the pandemic.

He was joined by the Deputy Prime Minister Rt Hon Moses Ali, Hon Joyce Moriku Kaducu, Minister of State for Primary Health Care, Yonas Tegegn WOLDERMARIAM, World Health Organisation Representative in Uganda, Robert Kwesiga Secretary General Uganda Red cross and Francis Omaswa Chair of the Community Engagement Strategy , Maj Gen Muheesi from the Covid Taskforce

Rt Hon Dr Ruhakana Rugunda addressed a press conference on the Implementation of the Community Engagement strategy for COVID19 response in Uganda.

He said Ugandans should be not rest during the times of COVID-19 but be more Vigilant.

The objective of the press briefing was to draw attention of the general population and recruit public support to facilitate the Community Engagement expeditious implementation and achievement of the objectives of Strategy for Ministry of Health.

“We are concerned about the level of complacency in communities. In fact we have heard some people addressing #COVID19 in the past as “during the times of COVID-19″. Covid is still with us and so we need Vigilance.” Rt Hon Dr Rugunda said

Village Covid 19 Taskforces as part of the National Community Engagement Strategy on Covid 19 response.

“Media, your role is critical because you reach the Masses. Join us to communicate messages about the prevention of #COVID19” while rolling out the National Community Engagement Strategy as part of combating the spread of the Corona Virus

“We are shifting our interventions to community engagement and home based care as we strive to manage the #COVID19 situation in #Uganda” said Joyce Moriku Kaduce while addressing the press at the office of the Prime Minister in Kampala on rolling out the National Community Engagement Strategy.

Currently uganda is in stage4 of the pandemic which means there is a wide spread of Covid-19 in communities.

“I want to call upon development partners and embrace this strategy and incorporate the strategy in their programs. We shall have a great Nation if we secure the Health of the people we serve.” Francis Omaswa said

He further said “I am happy to have a multi-Sectoral group that i have worked with to come up with guidelines on how we can combat the spread the #COVID19. Health is a key priority of our lives. Guard it.”

Minister for local Government said ,”As we fight #COVID19 i want to recruit the LCs to join this fight. We want to take the sensitisations to community level. At each village we have the village LCs who have secretaries for Health, VHTs and we want them to be at the front line. Let’s go”

Yonas Tegegn WOLDERMARIAM, World Health Organisation Representative in Uganda said “The world has seen a tremendous increase in cases of #COVID19. Health workers who are meant to help us are equally infected. In the last 4 weeks, #Uganda is not doing so well. We are the 5th contributor to the infections increase in Africa” while addressing press

“Media, be factual in your reporting because the Public listens and trusts you. Take life messages to the people.We will save more lives.”

Chairman National Community Engagement Strategy Taskforce “The disease is everywhere. #COVID19 is with us. We no longer have to isolate for the sake. Let’s excercise, eat a balanced diet, and obey the rules (SOPs) put in place to fight the Pandemic.”

Robert Kwesiga said “We the non state Actors have a contribution to make while fighting the Pandemic. Let’s bring financial, human, technical resources on board to add to the Govt resources and manage the Pandemic.”

“We as the Redcross commit to ensuring that this community Engagement Strategy is rolled out to the Community level and upscale the efforts in curbing the spread of #COVID19 with support from our mother body.

“We all have a contribution to make in the fight against #COVID19. Let’s bring financial, human, technical resources on board to add to the government resources and manage the #COVID19 pandemic,” said Kwesiga.

About Goodluck Musinguzi

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