A section of the public are asking that authorities reign in on Ugandans who are congregating to partake in physical activity, some suggesting that such exercises that risk spreading coronavirus infection should be banned.
On Saturday, photos and videos of groups of people in very close contact jogging and working out along the Northern Bypass sparked debate.
Many Ugandans on social media criticized what they called irresponsible behavior that is counterproductive to the measures that government has so far taken to ensure social distancing so as to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Health authorities have repeatedly urged the public to stay home and to maintain a distance of at least 4 metres from each other. However, the incidents on Saturday imply that individual responsibility is still lagging even among the literate citizens who are well informed.
Following the jogging incidents, Health Minister, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng tweeted resounding the appeal for social distancing.
“I notice people are taking advantage of the stay at home to do physical exercise,keep fit & fight NCDs. I salute you for that. However,keep a distance of at least 4 meters from your team members, ” Dr Aceng wrote on Twitter.
“And do not go out in large numbers or crowds. Do not be more than 5 people. God bless. Stay home, Stay safe”.
However, the response on her appeal seemed to advocate for a much tougher approach by government. Many are asking that outdoor physical activity be suspended until the situation has been contained.
During the President’s most recent address to the nation on the coronavirus pandemic, he expressed concern over members of the public who are still moving (walking) in droves from one point to another, saying this could undermine the strategy of government to lockdown the country and trace contacts of those already infected.
“We are telling the whole country to stop like we do in the military. In warfare, walking can distract you from hearing what your enemy might be up to. So you must stop to be able to listen properly,” Museveni said.
“This is what we are doing now (during lockdown). But now you are still walking. Those of you walking everyday coming to town, what are you going to do that can’t wait? You are interfering with our ability to detect our enemy (COVID-19). Some people came into the country and escaped from the airport. We wanted to use these 14 days to understand how far they went”.
Museveni says the inconvenience Ugandans are facing due to restricted movement, lockdown and daily curfew is nothing compared to the bigger problem – if this virus spreads into the population.
Here is what some Ugandans said about jogging and physical exercises in groups…
It's a matter of emergency not comfort ,even president said. I think we should just forego anything like coming together at least for 14 days instead of putting down all the efforts of the ministry in the name of fitness
— Ortho. Ntale Baker (@BakerNtale) April 5, 2020
Ban the whole jogging thing. If I go with my group of 5, someone else comes with his group of 5 and another like that, suddenly it's a crowd
— Katonny 💥 (@tonvionny) April 5, 2020
Ugandans won't understand this. They even don't know the 4 meters u are talking about. Let them stay at home and jog from their bedrooms. Prevention is better than cure. Please bring back the LDUs. Thank you
— Ritah Aliguma (@RitahAliguma) April 5, 2020
@JaneRuth_Aceng for the good you've done, these people will make it look useless.
Such 'weak orders' don't work.
Empower Security Officials to whoop these idiots.
We shall not have a problem with you at all.
— Napoleone Ehmah (@NapoleoneEm) April 5, 2020
There this idiots pse find away of beating the hell outta them. pic.twitter.com/ltbrDMS6p8
— Itesot Guy (@samuelepa76) April 5, 2020
People should stay home. Otherwise, ur efforts are being sabotaged & the after effects will be bad. If we ugandans can't rest in our homes, then we shall rest well in the graves.
— kugumikiriza elijah (@kekelijah) April 5, 2020
People can exercise from their homes or even from inside their rooms
There are hundreds of exercises you can do from inside your house that are even much easier than jogging in groups
— Lubuulwa (@lubuulwachris2) April 5, 2020
With the kind of indiscipline we have witnessed coupled with ignorance in our societies, the only option available is to declare a total lockdown. Time to take the most severe step is NOW!
— Ahereza Noah (@noaxiee) April 5, 2020
Although we want to be physically fit. For betterment of our country to win this war of #Covid this should stop. Let's stay home, Because if we force ourselves to move our enemy #COVID also moves. Let's stay home. @KagutaMuseveni
— ⚡ Srich 🇺🇬 (@richsseru) April 5, 2020