🔴 Coronavirus situation in Uganda and beyond

By Joseph Kizza

The king of Buganda Kingdom, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, donates sh100m to the ongoing efforts against coronavirus. His brother, Prince David Wasajja, hands over the package to the Prime Minister.

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🔴 ROLLING NEWS ON THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Live reporting by Joseph Kizza

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Twitter: @joekizza

(Scroll down for earlier updates)

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7:05pm  |  Good evening!

That's it for today's coverage. Glad you could join us here. Stay safe!

I leave you with some positive news. For a second day running, Uganda has not registered any new case of coronavirus from a total of 381 samples tested on Monday and Tuesday combined.

So far so good.


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7:03pm  |  Kabaka donates sh100m to coronavirus fight

 

Earlier today, the king of Buganda Kingdom, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, donated sh100m to the ongoing efforts against coronavirus.

His brother, Prince David Wasajja, delivered Kabaka's donation in the form of relief items and medical equipment to Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, who chairs the coronavirus national taskforce.


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6:57pm  |  Attention, dear parents and guardians!

Children are not in school due to the coronavirus lockdown. This means more time for them do some exploration, especially online. But with technological advancement come risks. This is a time parents and guardians must particularly be very attention to what activity their young ones engage in.

Who are they interacting with online? What are they watching online? What are they sharing online? The cyber space can be quite dangerous.

The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has posted a series of messages on its social media page addressing this critical subject. I have collated the messages into the chunk below:

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Due to the lockdown as a result of COVID-19, children will potentially have an increased online presence, which may put them at an inadvertent risk. Whereas the internet is designed for good, some negative actors are intent on using it for harm.

Indeed, the internet is a great resource for learning and development and provides exciting and new ways of accessing information for learning and networking for our children now that they are home. But, beware of increased secrecy of children online.

Parents and guardians need to take particular care of their children's online activity during this lockdown. There are negative elements who are intent on using the internet for cyber-crime, and more scaring are those that use it to target children.

As we endure the lockdown of COVID-19, let us have some house rules about using the internet and personal devices, giving particular attention to issues of privacy, age inappropriate content, and the danger of children engaging with strangers online.

Take time to educate your children on the risks associated with sharing personal information, posting photographs online, making use of the webcam, etc. Organised criminals are targeting unsuspecting online users to steal log-in information.

 

As parents or guardians, take interest to understand how your children use personal devices such as mobile phones, games consoles, MP3 players, PDAs, etc., during this #COVID19 lockdown. Take time to talk about their experiences online.

Parents, be ware of the relatively new phenomenon where children and young people are putting themselves at risk by posting sexually provocative images of themselves online or sending them to friends using mobile technologies.

During lockdown, be mindful of the potential exposure to illegal and harmful content, such as pornography, gambling, self-harm sites and other content inappropriate for children and inappropriate contact by peers, older youths or even adults online

In most cases, parents and guardians are not aware of details concerning the online experiences of their children, and yet you bring the much-needed life skills and experience of dos and don'ts to the online safety environment. Take action, stay safe.


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6:32pm  |  That COVID-19 is caused by 5G phone signals? 'Rubbish!'

Top global health officials have mentioned that one of the threats to the fight against the coronavirus pandemic is the spread of false news (mis)information.

They are right. Absolutely right!


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6:18pm  |  More than 75,500 dead globally

Later this evening, we expect to get an update from the health ministry on what has come out of the Uganda Virus Research Institute in Entebbe. As it stands, Uganda has 52 people confirmed to have the coronavirus.

The last update on this indicated that they are all in stable condition. Uganda has no confimed COVID-19-related death.

Meanwhile, according to an AFP tally based on official sources, at least 75,542 people have died around the world, nearly three-quarters of them in Europe, since the virus emerged in China in December.

 odies are moved to a refrigeration truck serving as a temporary morgue at yckoff ospital in ew ork Bodies are moved to a refrigeration truck serving as a temporary morgue at Wyckoff Hospital in New York

 

The pandemic has killed more than 53,928 people in Europe, including 16,523 in Italy, 13,798 in Spain, 8,911 in France and 5,373 in Britain.

The United States' death toll tops 10,993 with at least 368,449 confirmed infections, the highest caseload in the world.

More than 1.35 million cases have been officially recorded around the world, a toll that represents only a fraction of the actual number of infections.


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5:57pm  |  10 police officers accused of torture remanded

The Police has named the 10 of its officers accused of torturing 38 victims, after their appearance before Gulu Chief Magistrate on charges of aggravated torture on Tuesday.

They have been remanded to Pece Prisons for one month until May 7.


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5:49pm  |  Coronavirus: Busting the myths

So you have heard something like, having a hot bath or shower can keep you from contracting the novel coronavirus.

Believed it?

Hope you did not, because is a big fat lie - and the World Health Organisation has something to say about this . . .

FACT: Taking a hot bath DOES NOT prevent the new coronavirus disease

Taking a hot bath will not prevent you from catching COVID-19. Your normal body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the temperature of your bath or shower. Actually, taking a hot bath with extremely hot water can be harmful, as it can burn you. The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands. By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.

 
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5:27pm  |  Health minister comes clean

It has been very busy days for health minister Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng.

And a time of terms such as "coronavirus", "social distancing" and "quarantine" rolling off our lips more often than ever before, she has been tossed into a jar of conspiracy after being accused by some politicians of defying her own gospel of self and institutional quarantine. They claim she did not self-isolate after returning to Uganda from a recent foreign trip.

The minister flew back to Uganda with other officials on March 5 from a trip to South Africa. In her defense, Aceng has maintained their travel took place before travel restrictions were recommended and enforced by the World Health Organisation and many countries around the world, respectively, to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

On Tuesday, Aceng appeared before Parliament and, armed with her travel documents for proof, came clean.


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4:56pm  |  EU announces 15 bn euros to fight virus worldwide

 

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The European Union is to put up 15 billion euros ($16.4 billion) to help poor countries fight the coronavirus epidemic, the bloc's chief announced on Tuesday.

European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen said the money would help countries with weak healthcare systems tackle the impact of COVID-19 and also aid their long-term economic recovery.

Beating the pandemic in Europe alone is not enough, officials say, pointing out that if coronavirus continues to rage elsewhere in the world, it will simply return in time.

"We will only win this battle with a coordinated global response," von der Leyen said in a video posted on Twitter.

"This is why the European Union is securing more than 15 billion euros to help our partners worldwide to fight coronavirus."

The brief video did not give details of where the money would come from nor which countries would benefit.

But officials have previously identified Africa as a concern because of its links to Europe and the poor state of healthcare in many of its countries.

A senior EU official last week warned it would be "completely useless" to defeat coronavirus in Europe if it simply re-emerged from nearby countries struggling to contain it.

"Africa could experience the same problems that we are facing in Europe in a matter of weeks," von der Leyen said in her video on Tuesday.

"They need our help to slow down the spread of the virus as we needed help in this crisis."

Europe has been the epicentre of the virus in recent weeks but last week the EU's diplomatic chief Josep Borrell warned the virus could "get out of control very rapidly" in Africa.

EU development ministers will meet by video call on Wednesday to discuss details of financial help for vulnerable countries.


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4:47pm  |  Minister Kyambadde boosts coronavirus fight

The minister of trade, industry and cooperatives, Amelia Kyambadde, has donated an ambulance and medical equipment to a Mpigi health facility in efforts to combat the marauding coronavirus.

Vision Group's Paddy Bukenya, who was at the facility during the handover, reports that the minister urged the in-charge to ensure the staff ramp up response efforts as Uganda continues to enforce barriers against the spread of the virus.

For now, there are 52 people that have been confirmed to have coronavirus in Uganda.

 

 

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4:21pm  |  Train all frontliners in COVID-19 fight

As mentioned earlier, today is World Health Day and the call to us all is to celebrate nurses and midwives, who help us live in a happier, healthier world - as well as to respect, appreciate and support them.

In the fight against the coronavirus, another call is have all frontline workers trained.


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3:48pm  |  The Big Debate - Keeping fit in droves

The ongoing lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic has subjected many Ugandans to sedentary lifestyles. But some of you are fighting back, refusing to be couch-potatoes and instead hitting the road to keep in tip-top shape.

Problem is, you are doing so in groups. While being keen on staying in shape, you could at the same time be exposing yourself to potential coronavirus infection.

In fact, the other day, health ministry Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng saluted people who "do physical exercise, keep fit and fight non-communicable diseases (NCDs)". But she was keen to caution those doing so to "keep a distance of at least four metres from your team members".

"Do not go out in large numbers or crowds. Do not be more than five people.
God bless. Stay home, stay safe," she tweeted.

This is the subject of today's Big Debate.


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3:07pm  |  Coronavirus: Busting the myths

You must have chanced on a post or two making rounds that taking alcohol can shield you from getting infected with coronavirus. Well, I hope you consumed that information with caution, because it is not true.

 

The World Health Organisation makes a clarification:

FACT: Drinking alcohol does not protect you against COVID-19 and can be dangerous.

Frequent or excessive alcohol consumption can increase your risk of health problems.

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2:44pm  |  30 arrested in Rakai for defying curfew

Know what happens when you defy nationwide directives? The long arm of the law smacks you hard.

This is the fate of as many as 30 people in Rakai district, who have been taken in for failing to heed the 7pm-6:30am curfew imposed as one of the many measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus.


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2:33pm  |  Putin: 'Optimism and sense of humour' will help Johnson recover

 

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has wished Boris Johnson a speedy recovery from the coronavirus, saying his "optimism and sense of humour" would help him get better, reports news agency AFP.

"I would like to express my sincere support at this difficult moment for you," the Kremlin quoted Putin as saying in a message to Johnson.

"I am sure that your energy, optimism and sense of humour will help to defeat the disease."

The Russian president is handling his duties remotely, the Kremlin said last week, after the head of the country's main coronavirus hospital tested positive following a meeting with Putin.


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2:27pm  |  With Boris Johnson out of action, who is running Britain?

With British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in intensive care in hospital with coronavirus, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has stepped in -- but he will not have the same power.

AFP looks at some of the key questions about who is now running Britain during this crisis:

 

So who is in charge?

Before he was admitted to intensive care on Monday evening, Johnson asked Raab, whose other job title is First Secretary of State, "to deputise for him where necessary", a Downing Street spokesman said.

Raab had already chaired the government's daily coronavirus briefing on Monday after Johnson was first admitted to hospital for tests on Sunday night. Raab took charge again on Tuesday morning.

He is expected to receive Johnson's daily briefing papers in his 'red box' for official dispatches, according to the Institute for Government (IfG) think tank.

He will also coordinate the work of other ministers who chair cabinet sub-committees dealing with specific areas of coronavirus, such as the healthcare response and efforts to support businesses.

 ritains oreign ecretary ominic aab left leaves from 10 owning treet Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab (left) leaves from 10 Downing Street

 

Will Britain's response to coronavirus change?

Raab challenged Johnson for the leadership of their Conservative party last year, but on Monday evening insisted he would follow his boss's plan to tackle COVID-19.

"The focus of the government will continue to be on making sure that the prime minister's direction... will be taken forward," he said.

Britain has been in lockdown since March 23, with the public told to stay at home wherever possible and most shops and services closed.

However, these measures are up for review next week -- a big decision.

Cabinet minister Michael Gove said the decision would not be delayed but would be taken "collectively as a cabinet", with Raab having the final say if Johnson is not able to make the call.

What about national security?

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Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the House of Commons defence committee -- which acts as a watchdog -- warned Britain must be ready for "adversaries attempting to exploit any perceived weakness" while Johnson is in hospital.

"It is important to have 100 percent clarity as to where responsibility for UK national security decisions now lies," he tweeted.

Gove added: "It's Dominic as foreign secretary who's in charge".

Could Raab overreach?

There is no constitutional role of acting or deputy prime minister.

Britain is formally governed by the cabinet, and even the prime minister, while having certain powers, can only govern with the support of cabinet ministers.

"Raab has to be careful... of not overstepping the bounds of the authority he's been given," said IfG director Bronwen Maddox.

She suggested cabinet colleagues would "rally round" given the extraordinary circumstances, but if reported tensions over strategy continued, Raab might find things difficult.

"It's harder for someone deputising for the prime minister really to exert authority over divisions if those appear," she told BBC radio.

How has this worked before?

Prime ministers often delegate certain tasks to a cabinet colleague, for example asking them to chair meetings while they are on holiday. However, they are kept informed and remain in charge.

During the Cold War, prime ministers appointed "nuclear deputies" to decide what to do in the event of the prime minister being incapacitated or out of contact.

But the rules are fluid.

The IfG highlighted how, in 1953, then prime minister Winston Churchill reportedly suffered a stroke.

The most obvious replacement, foreign minister Anthony Eden, was himself in hospital undergoing surgery, and in the end the news was kept from most of the cabinet and Churchill carried on.

What happens if Johnson dies?

 ohnson is in intensive care at t homas ospital in central ondon Johnson is in intensive care at St Thomas' Hospital in central London

 

Although the titles of deputy prime minister or first secretary of state are used, it does not mean the office holder automatically takes over.

The IfG says it would be up to the cabinet to collectively recommend an immediate successor to Queen Elizabeth II, who would then name them to take over.

"This could be done with the expectation that his or her role would be temporary, pending the election of a new party leader," it said in a briefing note.

But as there is no formal role of acting prime minister, they would stay in power "until they chose to resign or if their cabinet forced them out".


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2:10pm  |  Kenya cordons off Nairobi and virus-hit cities

Still in Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta has imposed a three-week ban on movement in and out of four main coronavirus "infected areas", including the capital Nairobi, ahead of the usually busy Easter weekend, AFP reports.

Kenyatta stopped short of a full lockdown within these areas, but warned "we must be ready to go even further if necessary" in a televised address to the nation.

He ordered "cessation of all movement by road, rail or air in and out of" Nairobi, and the coastal towns of Kilifi and Kwale and the country's second largest city of Mombasa for 21 days, starting from Monday at 7pm.

"The movement of food supplies and other cargo will continue as normal during the declared containment period through road, railway and air," he said.

The picture immediately before shows people waiting in line for a bus to go back to their homes before the night curfew starts in downtown Nairobi on Monday.



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1:55pm  |  Kenyan deputy governor in hot soup over self-isolation

Across in neighbouring Kenya, Kilifi County Deputy Governor Gideon Saburi appeared in the dock at the Mombasa court in Mombasa on Monday over accusations of failing to self-quarantine.

He arrived into the country from Germany, then attended a social gathering against the country's guidelines to self-quarantine for citizens coming from abroad.

 

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1:33pm  |  Makerere management meets virtually



The coronavirus lockdown has affected every aspect of our existence, so to speak. The education sector, too, was never spared by the ongoing measures being enforced to prevent the spread of the virus. Working from home and social distancing have in a very short time become part of our lives.

Most of the activity has gone online, with meetings and operations being conducted virtually. Makerere University is one institution taking this approach.

On Monday, the University Central Management held its first online meeting in a bid to continue with university work and to observe social distancing. The meeting was chaired by the Vice Chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, who interfaced with his fellow managers virtually.

It is understood the meeting made several recommendations for policy and restructuring of the academy year, which was interrupted by closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.

 
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1:03pm  |  Using legal and appropriate methods of work

In his address to the nation on Friday, President Museveni warned overzealous LDU officers against heavy-handedness.

The Police later assured the public that the joint security taskforce "shall continue using legal and appropriate methods of work, to keep our country and all Ugandans safe".


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12:45pm  |  Security officers arrested for using excessive force

Security agencies have come out to condemn the "outrageous and gross acts of misconduct" by some of their own who were a a tad too ambitious in the line of duty by applying excessive force, hence violating "instead of protecting the constitutional and civil rights of victims".

It is understood that a joint security task team of senior UPDF and UPF officers is investigating the alleged aggravated torture of several women and a few men who were being accused of flouting curfew orders and the ban on public spaces.

During one night-time patrol, the accused are said to have used "a heavy-handed approach", kicking doors open and dragging occupants out, leaving "several vulnerable women and a few men" injured in the process.

The Police have posted a detailed statement on this.


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12:30pm  |  Coronavirus: Busting the myths

Here is more handy information from the World Health Organisation.

FACT: Being able to hold your breath for 10 seconds or more without coughing or feeling discomfort DOES NOT mean you are free from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) or any other lung disease.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are dry cough, tiredness and fever. Some people may develop more severe forms of the disease, such as pneumonia. The best way to confirm if you have  the virus producing COVID-19 disease is with a laboratory test.  You cannot confirm it with this breathing exercise, which can even be dangerous.

 

I must admit that the first time I read about holding your breath for 10 seconds, I put it into practice in the belief that it was factual information. I held on about 30 or so seconds until letting go. Now I know I was only swimming in mythical waters!


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12:23pm  |  Uganda's lockdown measures

Uganda is under partial lockdown, with unusually lukewarm activity around the country. Only essential services, including health and banking, are being delivered. Food markets are open albeit with specific standard operating procedures in place.

Many activities have been banned, facilities closed and public transport suspended. These, plus several other measures to curb the spread of coronavirus, are contained in the summary below.

 

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12:12pm  |  'I will answer your comments'

On Sunday, President Museveni said he had "received your comments and I will answer them on Tuesday".

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12:07pm  |  It's World Health Day

Oh by the way, you may have been all too consumed in everything coronavirus to even notice that today is World Health Day.

This time round, focus is on celebrating nurses and midwives, who are part of the frontline forces in the fight against COVID-19 - and in doing so, they are putting their own lives at high risk of infection and even death.

We are being rallied, therefore, to respect, appreciate and support them.


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11:55am  |  Ofwono Opondo's 22km COVID-19 challenge

In this time of partial lockdown in Uganda, you will agree with me that there is a lot more time to kill than if it were a business-as-usual Tuesday.

Well, government spokesperson and Uganda Media Centre executive director Ofwono Opondo has embarked on what he calls a solo 22km COVID-19 challenge that features him walking from Mukono to the Uganda Media Centre.

Along the way, he has been posting on social media photos of his progress on a warm Tuesday morning.

I remember walking with him during the six-day Galamba-Birembo Greak Trek in January this year. Steely guy, this one!


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11:38am  |  Read today's New Vision for free

Checked out today's New Vision paper yet? We have prepared it for you in e-paper form HERE or you can read it in PDF version HERE - free of charge.

So, read away!


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11:27am  |  To test or not to test for coronavirus

Have you picked up a cough? Or fever? Or flu-like symptoms. Hey, don't panic.

Experts will tell you that we all are at risk of infection of the coronavirus. But just to be sure, you must be debating whether you should reach out to health authorities to possibly get tested or simply self-isolate at home in the hope that those signs and symptoms will clear.

This two-minute video posted by the Uganda Media Centre on Twitter could come in handy for you. Check it out.


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11:17am  |  Coronavirus: Busting the myths

I am sure you have heard so much talk about the new coronavirus, including stuff that actually is not true. In light of this stream of misinformation at a time when what everyone needs is factual information to remain safe, the World Health Organisation has dedicated a page on its website to bust such myths.

I will be sharing a couple of them here as we get along. And here is one on the atmospheric temperatures:

 

FACT: Exposing yourself to the sun or to temperatures higher than 25°C DOES NOT prevent the coronavirus disease.

You can catch COVID-19, no matter how sunny or hot the weather is. Countries with hot weather - like Uganda - have reported cases of coronavirus. To protect yourself, make sure you clean your hands frequently and thoroughly and avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.


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11:05am  |  Mask use OK where hand-washing, distancing hard - WHO

 

If you have been keen on what's happening around the world, you will have known by now what toll the coronavirus pandemic has left in its wake - yet it continues to wreak havoc across the globe.

It has killed more than 70,000 people while more than 1.2 million people have tested positive for this new strain of the virus. I have read somewhere that a vaccine is thought to be at least one year away.

On Monday, news agency AFP reported the World Health Organisation as saying that asking the general public to wear facemasks could be justified in areas where hand-washing and physical distancing were difficult.

But the health agency warned that masks alone cannot stop the coronavirus pandemic.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus slammed suggestions that Africa should be used as a testing ground for a vaccine as racist, AFP added.

Click here to read the full story.


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10:40am  |  All samples tested on Monday are negative

Meanwhile, the good news is that all 231 samples tested for coronavirus on Monday at the Uganda Virus Research Institute in Entebbe returned negative!

That means the total number of people who have COVID-19 in Uganda remains 52.

For now, sensitization within the public continues - and the US mission in Uganda has joined hands with the health ministry in this regard.


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10:25am  |  When to use a mask

Speaking of masks in these difficult times as the coronavirus pandemic continues, there has been plenty of debate on whether it is necessary to wear them on not. So when do you have to slap on one?

 

Here is what the World Health Organisation (WHO) says:

• If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection.

• Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.

• Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

• If you wear a mask, then you must know how to use it and dispose of it properly.


WHO also advises on how to use medical masks to protect against coronavirus:

• Before putting on a mask, clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
   
• Cover mouth and nose with mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.
   
• Avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  
• Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single-use masks.
   
• To remove the mask: remove it from behind (do not touch the front of mask); discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.


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10:15am  |  Good morning!

Hello and welcome to New Vision's live coverage of the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic, whose deadly, contagious sneeze has infected nearly the entire planet with a deadly cold.

While most of the attention on this page will be on Uganda, every once in a while, I will be peeking beyond to check what's happening in the other parts of the world and update you on that as well.

Chances are, you are reading this from the safety of your home. Good, stay right there. Or if you are out and about, I have a sneaky suspicion you are wearing a mask, which has become an ubiquitous addition to people's appearances.

From a Uganda Red Cross official stationed at Nakasero market in the heart of Uganda's capital Kampala tasked with checking the temperature of passersby . . .

 

 . . . to Ziggie the dog in California on USA's west coast . . .

 

. . . or these cakes getting finishing touches from their nifty maker at his shop in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip . . .

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. . . or even this sand sculpture by Palestinian artist Rana al-Ramlawi pictured in her yard in Gaza City . . .

 

. . .  it is clear the face mask has become part of everyday life. Everywhere you turn, chances are you will be this "new gold" either on someone's face or it being depicted in one way or another.

This is how much COVID-19 has influenced our way of life.