Uganda: Kampala's Covid Hotspots –

Five of every 10 people who have contracted Covid-19 in Uganda are from the country’s administrative, commercial and political capital, Kampala.
Data from Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) Directorate of Public Health captured from March 21 to July 3 shows that Kampala remains a hotspot for Covid-19, with more than 53 per cent of the national tally.
The statistics indicate concentration of Covid-19 cases in Central Division with 24,522 (55 per cent), Kawempe – 9,737 (22 per cent), and Nakawa – 6,628 (15 per cent), accounting for more than half of the cases registered in the capital.
Rubaga Division with 1,357 (3 per cent), and Makindye with 2,530 (6 per cent), have registered the least Covid-19 cases.
Dr Sarah Zalwango, a member of Kampala City Covid-19 taskforce, said the high incidence in Kampala is because its divisions have carried out more testing compared to other cities and municipalities.
"Central and Nakawa [divisions] are doing most testing. Central Division is the heart of the city’s central business district, and you would expect more people there. Then Nakawa Division is our international point of entry at Port Bell on Lake Victoria, with people coming in and we have to test," Dr Zalwango said yesterday.
Dr Richard Kabanda, the commissioner of health promotion, education, and communication at the Ministry of Health, said Kawempe and Nakawa divisions have many more busy suburbs with residents congregating for business and related activities.
Dr Kabanda said the crowded housing in slum areas are also responsible for difficulty in social distancing.
Central Division has sprawling slums in Kisenyi and Katwe, while Nakawa has Namuowongo, and Kawempe has Katanga and Kivulu slums.
The KCCA data also shows that more men – 25,539 (57 per cent) have contracted the coronavirus disease than women at 19,235 (43 per cent).
However, the number of confirmed cases in the city, standing at 44,774, had most incidence among the youthful population, with the most affected age group being 30 to 39 years, with 12,871 cases (28.7 per cent), followed by those aged between 20 and 29 with 10,310 cases (23 per cent).
The age groups with the least cases are those above 90 with 167 cases (0.4 per cent), and those aged 80 to 89 with 314 (0.7 per cent).
The authorities tie this trend to the mobility of men, who are always moving about in the struggle to feed their families.
They also say the age group of 20 to 39 is more active and moves a lot, fuelling the Covid-19 transmission.
"If you have been critical, you would have noted that most of those who have been beaten for violating SOPs to stop the spread of Covid-19 are men. You find one man has a family of about eight people to feed so they cannot stay home when their families are starving," Ms Olive Namazzi, the KCCA’s executive secretary for public health, said.
By July 6, Kampala City had registered a cumulative total of 54,112 Covid-19 cases.
Col Dr Henry Kyobe, the Covid-19 national incident commander, said Kampala has large population with complex interactions, which fuels transmission.
Dr Kyobe, an expert on transmission and control of epidemic diseases, yesterday said: "We need to rationalise by population. The area with biggest population is Kampala."
The Uganda Bureau of Statistics (Ubos) last July projected the population of Wakiso District at 2.9 million and Kampala at 1.7 million.
The two districts constitute the highest urban population concentrations in the country.
Ms Namazzi puts Kampala’s population at 2.5m during day and at 1.5m during night.
Most of the city’s daytime working population retreat to homes in Greater Kampala Metropolitan areas of Wakiso and Mukono districts.
Some health experts have warned that Kampala is registering more cases because of the many tests done compared to other cities.
Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the Health ministry spokesperson, said most laboratories are in Kampala, which makes testing accessible.
But he added that most health facilities have now been equipped with rapid diagnostic tests to boost testing.
Since Uganda registered the first case on March 21, Kampala has been registering high Covid-19 cases compared to other districts.
By July 6, Kampala City had registered a cumulative total of 54,112 Covid-19 cases of the country’s 85,581 since Uganda registered its first case of Covid-19 in March 2020.
Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago said Kampala is a hub of business, which ought to have been given special Covid-19 response.
"Kampala is the gateway to the nation. You have all sorts of people coming to do business here and our business community goes far, that’s why it should have been given special treatment in terms of facilitation, not measures like lockdown," Mr Lukwago said on Friday.
Mr Lukwago noted that the vaccination rate in Kampala remains low yet its health facilities are poorly equipped to handle Covid-19.
Mr Lukwago said arrangements should have been made to boost vaccination in Kampala.
"Vaccination should have been practicable before it is rolled out elsewhere. With testing in Kampala, it should have been done as early as possible and should have been free. Instead, Mr Museveni was emphasising lockdown. What needed to be done was to treat Kampala as a special area, knowing it’s a gateway to the nation," Mr Lukwago said.
The Lord Mayor said there is need to provide more vaccines to the capital city and also introduce the concept of mass vaccination to cover more people.
"Vaccinate people as early as possible, but right now, vaccination is slow. They allocated very few doses, for the second batch, they gave 50,000, what can it do? We wanted mass vaccination, not just at health centres," Mr Lukwago said.
KCCA says Kampala has neither the capacity to do evacuation of positive cases nor health facilities to treat Covid-19 patients and many people are not testing due to the high charges.
"We don’t have capacity to treat, people should be able to come to Kisenyi Health Centre and get all medication they want. As KCCA, we only have three [ambulances], its only Good Samaritans that have given us a fleet of 18 more, so how do we handle the issue of evacuation, surveillance?" Mr Lukwago added.
The Ministry of Health called upon the public to observe the SOPs in order to curb transmission.
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What some residents say…
Promise Begyiragye, Nakawa resident, "Kampala has a high population which is not protecting itself. Many people are not wearing face masks and yet everybody flocks Kampala looking for money. Whoever comes from abroad via Entebbe, somehow goes through Kampala."
Rita Mukasa, Bugolobi resident, "People are still ignorant about the disease, that is why their behaviour in public has not changed much. The disease was also politicised and people think we are still in politics and campaigns."
Willy Okello, Naguru resident, "Kampala has a high concentration of people from different walks of life and there are no proper guidelines on how people should gather in public places. People do not adhere to the SOPs."
Robert Okuni, Makindye resident, "Kampala is the centre of everything, therefore people congregate in Kampala. That is why you find someone travelling all the way from, say Pallisa District, to meet a friend who has travelled from Mbarara."
Lance Everest, Munyonyo resident, "Kampala is the centre of everything, when you are in Fort Portal or Arua and you need spares, the seller will tell you he will have to go to Kampala. All government ministries are in Kampala, meaning all civil servants somehow end up in Kampala."
Yusuf Kiyengo, Kawempe Resident, "There is little emphasis on adherence to the standard operating procedures. Three weeks ago, we were burying more than five people in a week in Kawempe, but the numbers have currently gone down, thanks to the lockdown."
Read the original article on Monitor.
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