KAMPALA: Scientists on the COVID-19 task force have said that the public can relax some of the public health measures like wearing facial masks.
In the last three weeks, the country on average reports 10 cases a day. COVID-19 Data from the Ministry of Health shows the positivity rate of the country on average is 0.3 percent, meaning only 3 people out of every 100 tested will be positive. With such few cases, scientists now think it is okay for people not to wear masks all the time.
Dr. Misaki Wayengera, the head of the ministerial COVID-19 scientific committee said it is okay for people not to wear masks all the time, especially with low positivity rates.
“Wearing masks is such a difficult thing for people. It is a very unnatural thing. If God wanted us to wear masks all the time He would have created them with them but man is not cut out for them. Wearing masks is a behavioral thing and the moment cases drop, the people also relax, but the moment the cases increase, they will wear masks without being reminded.”
Dr. Monica Musenero, an epidemiologist and Minister of Science, Technology, and innovation said the COVID-19 pandemic is a prolonged disease outbreak, and management of public health measures is important.
She said people need a break from wearing masks so that mask usage does not become a nuisance to them.
According to the current National Planning Authority-NPA, the country could see a surge in cases around June 2022. Dr. Musenero added that there is need for the public to continue adhering to some public health measures like handwashing and vaccination.
She also noted that mask usage should, however, continue in schools due to the high numbers of learners and teachers that gather in a school environment.
“In environments such as schools, it’s important to wear masks because there are many people from different communities who meet up. Since it is not possible to test all learners, it is important for learners to wear masks,” she added.
While wearing masks has been proved to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the prolonged usage of this particular type of personal protective equipment has been associated with temporary respiratory problems according to research.
A 2020 study carried out in New York and published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology found that constant mask usage can lead to headaches due to hypercapnia and hypoxemia, acne located in the covered area due to the moist conditions there, skin breakdown, and impaired cognition in some cases.
The call for scientists to relax mask usage comes at a time when some parts of the world are reporting a new variant, Deltacron that is believed to be a mixture of both the Delta and Omicron variants. So far, scientists say it is as infectious as measles.
So far, Uganda has recorded 164,768 cases and 3,595 deaths.