By Melodie Mukansonera
As Uganda revises her COVID-19 cases downwards for the second time, the country is also preparing for the worst as it converts its biggest stadium into a field hospital with up to 40,000 beds.
Yet as this is happening in the wake of President Museveni’s continued announcements that his country “is winning the war against the pandemic”. Observers see the realistic situation more in what his health ministry continues to record: increasing numbers of Covid-19 infections.
Observers further point to these figures, and the preparation to turn a huge stadium into a hospital, as “far more real dependable indications of the Covid-19 situation in Uganda than the President’s pronouncements.”
Reports from Kampala say that President Museveni recently ordered the Ministry of Health to prepare Namboole Stadium to accommodate 40,000 beds for managing Covid-19 patients in the country, prompting observers to comment: “an order like this can only mean the Ugandan Covid-19 situation is simply getting out of control!”
Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the Ministry of Health publicists, told journalists recently that works at the stadium have already started.
Currently, Uganda is at loggerheads with the World Health Organisation, with the two entities disagreeing on the exact number of Covid-19 cases in Uganda.
As of last Sunday, the country was reporting 696 cases but WHO reported 823 cases on its website.
WHO’s records carry all cases that tested positive on the national territories while Uganda deducts foreign truck drivers who tested positive of Covid-19 from its tally.
On 20th May 2020, President Museveni issued a directive that foreign truck drivers who test positive for Covid-19 must not be added to the national tally. This resulted to deducting 145 cases from Uganda’s reported cases.
“Such tactics of keeping Covid-19 cases artificially low are being further discredited by the Government’s own action to turn Namboole Stadium into a field hospital,” said a Kampala-based health reporter on condition of anonymity.
Such a course of action, preparing the stadium for 40,000 Covid-19 infected people, has not stopped President Museveni from directing, again, that the numbers be deducted downwards, by having removed several cases, which he claimed were “falsely reported by Makerere University laboratory.”
However, the university authorities have contested against the President’s claim.
Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, the Vice Chancellor, told the media that; “Makerere University’s laboratory which is testing is one of the best in Africa, and it would be unfortunate if indeed there were errors but lets us investigate and be clear because our team says they did everything correctly and they do not know how that could have happened.”