By Ziyada Babirye
Like each new year, 2020 was welcomed amidst ululations and incredible fireworks scenes with a blend of epic music the world over. Little did anyone ever think the unimaginable was yet to happen. At the start of each new year, people have future prospects that they want to see come to pass irrespective of the economic atmosphere around them, but like the saying goes; change or else change does it for you. Indeed Covid-19 has changed everyone and everything globally. But what about Covid-19?
Well, COVID-19 (Corona Virus Disease-2019), is a new corona virus identified as a cause of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, Hubei Province of China, late 2019. The outbreak has since spread to many other countries with in a span of less than 6 months. It was officially declared by WHO as a pandemic on March 11, 2020. Cases in all continents, except Antarctica, are steadily rising in many countries.
Its epidemiology and management are still unclear, especially in the global south. The current mode of transmission is Person-to-person mainly via respiratory droplets- similar to Influenza spread with Fever, dry cough, myalgias, anorexia, fatigue and dyspnoea as common symptoms.
Less common symptoms include; Headache, sore throat, runny nose & gastrointestinal symptoms - nausea/diarrhoea, loss of smell/taste disturbances. For moderate to severe disease; Haemoptysis (coughing blood) and dyspnoea, patients may report exposure to infected individual, travel to an area of outbreak, or recent travel (within 2 weeks) to widespread infection area, but there are many without travel history.
Covid-19 is highly infectious and has claimed many lives. Globally, approximately 2,672,260 cases have been reported with 252,566 deaths as of May 5, 2020 (Worldometer). Africa has more than 48,000 cases and approximately 16,000 recoveries as of May 2020.
To date, Uganda has 97 confirmed cases and no deaths. Of these, 55 have improved and been discharged after testing negative for Covid-19 (Ministry of Health -MOH). The fewer number is attributed to the immediate preventive measures led by His Excellence Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and the technical team through the MoH in liaison with MakSPH – Great team. Uganda is proud of you.
Currently, there is no drug, vaccine or antidote against this deadly virus. Most importantly, a boost of preventive measures is the only way to go. What about preventive measures?
STAY AT HOME if possible, social distancing, greet without touching, nod instead of handshake and hugging, work from home if possible, frequently wash hands with soap and water, use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer (> 60%) until next possible hand washing, avoid touching the face, and cover your cough. This is what we have in place for now, but I have seen calls for immediate innovations to steer up obligatory measures implying a need for additional actions. What am I saying?
A good one to this, as researchers and health workers, we acknowledge the power of lived experience as a useful method in data collection and that has also worked well in HIV/AID management regarding restoration of hope, adherence and prevention. The point is to get the then Covid-19 patients to echo and voice out their experiences as covid-19 patients, how it felt testing positive and how they coped, talk about preventive issues, reintegration into society, appropriate nutritional advice to covid-19 patients and things like that. These can be amplified in different languages with print outs of brochures, fliers and aired out over different radio stations and on televisions for national consumption. After the lockdown, such individuals may visit schools, prisons, market areas, universities and other places with high concentrations of people and continue to spread this information.
Together we can; For God and my Country; Aluta Continua.
The writer is a research fellow at MakSPH