Uganda coronavirus

Coronavirus blocked in Uganda but at what price?

Another 3.15 million will fall below the poverty line thanks to the lockdown

There have been no recorded coronavirus deaths in Uganda and only 1,025 confirmed cases, according to the World Health Organisation.

In fact, all over Africa the figures are minimal compared to those in Europe – Spain with 28,403 deaths on July 14, 2020, the US – 134,704 deaths – and Brazil – 72,100 deaths.

This seems strange, given that black African Brits face triple the virus death rate in the UK, according to the BBC.

The reasons given for the high death rate among the black and minority ethnic (BAME) community in the UK is poor housing, inequality, jobs dealing with the public and structural racism, most of which could apply to the poorer communities of Uganda.

So are the figures coming out of this landlocked real?

According to sources on the ground, it is possible that they could well be close to the truth.

With what a sort of military democracy running the country under Yoweri Museveni, Uganda was seen to be extremely efficient in containing the Ebola outbreak which never took hold there.

During the current pandemic, the lockdown has been very strict with a curfew every evening and a night in jail for those who break it.

Schools have been closed until February 2021, markets banned and airports closed, and it is said to take up to 50 hours to get over the country’s border.

“If the coronavirus took hold here it would be devastating,” says one NGO worker. “There are no oxygen cylinders at all in our district. You would have to travel miles and it would cost more than people could afford.”

While rural Ugandans are able to live off the land during the economic freeze, city dwellers, those working in services and teachers are not so lucky.

At the end of June, the World Bank agreed on a rescue sum of $300 million for Uganda to help with the detection and treatment of the virus and also to help the country get back on its feet.

It is thought that the virus could add 3.15 million to the 8.7 million already living below the poverty line.