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Employees, students must best tested before resuming classes

If we are to learn any great lesson from the partial lockdown and the curfew imposed to slow the spread of (Covid-19) – it is that there is no one size fits-all solution to this pandemic.

The fight to contain the spread of this disease needs a multi-pronged approach. Last week President Museveni announced that come June 4, the lockdown would be eased and Ugandans would resume their work.

His emphasis, however, was placed on wearing masks and continuing to adhere to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) such as social distancing and, washing hands with soap under flowing water regularly among others.

The ministry of Education and Sports has also allowed candidate classes; primary seven, senior four and senior six to resume but with strict adherence to established SOPs. These SOPs, however, would be more effective if the health status of the community members is known.

It would be prudent for all schools to screen their candidates for the coronavirus so that infected are separated. This would help in tracing and testing their contacts. Teachers, school administrators, guards and all those that offer any kind of service to these schools should be screened as well.

Their immediate family, including housemaids and drivers should also be screened. This is beneficial to all parties because schools have social and legal obligations to ensure the safety of their employees, customers, students and community members. But how can schools protect these students or employees when they don’t know who is sick.

The testing should be frequent because some people are asymptomatic and may not exhibit any symptoms on the first test. If millions of coronavirus tests are now available, government should act to protect the most vulnerable.

Originally, the tests cost as high as $65, but scientists with approval from WHO have manufactured kits which cost as low as $1. Schools may not have all the resources to fund the testing, but the state can chip in.

The Covid-19 response task force should have enough money to buy these cheap test kits. South Korea and Singapore, took a stand to do mandatory testing and this has reaped dividends.

They were able to isolate the infected persons from the community. They were also able to identify the disease hotspots. Two, they were able to plan and allocate their resources appropriately. We cannot plan appropriately for resources to fight this virus if we don’t know who is infected or not.

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