By Masereka Charles Yoronimu
The world over is fighting so hard to contain the spread of and deaths from the COVID_19 disease caused by the corona virus. Strict measures have been put in place to limit the interactions of people, airports have been closed, churches, schools, public transport services have all been closed, all aimed at limiting numbers of people and ensuring that social distancing is adhered to.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), corona virus spreads primarily from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, which are expelled when a person with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes, or speaks. These droplets are relatively heavy, do not travel far and quickly sink to the ground. People can catch COVID-19 if they breathe in these droplets from a person infected with the virus.
COVID-19 was first recorded in the Chinese city of Wuhan and spread to the entire world, compelling the World Health Organization to declare it a pandemic. The pandemic has effected more than 5 million people and claimed lives of more than 350,000. On a positive note, more than 2,000,000 have recovered from the virus.
Countries are now getting to cope with the virus and most are relaxing the lockdown restrictions, mainly to allow economic activities to come back to normal and essential services to operate.
In Uganda, the President, H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni on 18th May announced that businesses outside of arcades and shopping malls would be allowed to open and private cars would be allowed back on to the roads under strict standard operating procedures (SOPs). Among these SOPs is carrying a maximum of three people, including the driver, continued sanitizing and hand washing, social distancing, and compulsory use of face masks.
Face masks are indeed effective in stopping viruses from entering one’s body through the soft parts of eyes, nose and mouth and it is applauded by the WHO as an effective measure for combating the viruses.
However, one factor we are forgetting is that the face masks are likely to aid criminal activities, with the perpetrators taking advantage of having their faces covered in the guise of adhering to the government’s SOPs.
Uganda has registered a number of robberies and murder cases, most of which the culprits are masked or hooded to hide their true identity. Now with the imposition of compulsory wearing of face masks, nobody will suspect these criminals and that means crimes will even be committed in broad day light especially in crowded places where people may not be able to suspect suspicious activity.
According to the 2019 Police report, a total of 215,224 criminal cases were recorded. This number is likely to double this year since many people especially the Youth may lose jobs, even the casual laborers may not have work as post COVID_19 challenges continue to hit the country so hard.
As a concerned citizen, I request the Police and other security organs to come out and explain to the public what measures they have put in place to both ensure that Ugandans wear face masks and also the security of Ugandans and their belongings is guaranteed.
Let us all adhere to the laid down standard operating procedures to stay safe. Do not take the safety of your properties especially vehicles and other automobiles, houses, hand bags for granted for there is someone eyeing the same for keeps.
The writer is a Youth Leader, Farmer and Climate Activist.