ARUA. On February 19th, Italian top flight football team Atlanta played a pulsating game in the UEFA champion’s league against Valencia from Spain at the Sansiro stadium in Milan.
With over 44,000 fans in the stadium having travelled an average distance of about 60km because their Stadio Atleti Azzuri d’Italia of 21,000 capacity was deemed too small for the European encounter.
It was ecstasy at its speak at the end of 90minutes as the Italians ran riot winning 4-1 over their Spanish opponents and the partying continued all through the night.
However, a month later the mayor of Bergamo Mr Giorgio Gori was quoted as saying the match was a ‘biological bomb’ that infected over 40,000 fans in attendance.
Such a claim may not exactly be true and prompted out of emotions but for all the misery and ravage the COVID-19 has caused in the Mediterranean country, Mr Gori’s claim appears legitimate.
Italy, just like the rest of the world had watched on as authorities in China battled the deadly infections in Wuhan.
The first case of the virus was reported on the 31st January, two Chinese tourists in Rome were confirmed, a week later, another case until the 21st February when the most significant cases were confirmed.
First forward to March 25th, the country has been ravaged over taking China with over 7,500 deaths out of 74,386 cases.
The country is in a total lockdown, devastating damage has been reported to the Italian economy. The sectors of tourism, accommodation and food services among the hardest hit by foreign countries' limitations to travel to Italy, and by the nationwide lockdown imposed by the government on 8 March.
Back in my country Uganda, the first case was confirmed on 22nd March, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the country’s health minister said the 36-year-old Ugandan had travelled from Dubai and upon detecting the virus at the airport was confirmed positive after showing signs.
Earlier on March 18th, President Museveni had given directives that attracted mixed public reactions with some labelling them as unnecessary because the country had not registered any case.
Closure of all schools and institutions of learning, mosques, churches and a ban to countries deemed high risk for a period of 32 days, Mr Museveni insisted that this was an early preventive measure.
Additional measures would thereafter be added onto the growing list of directives as the infections grew in numbers, by 25th of March, in his 5th address to the nation in days, all public transport was banned, markets only open to those selling food stuff, passenger vehicles to carry only three people in a list of new measures as the country registered five new cases to bring the number to 14.
But as was the case at first, again dissenting voices sprung all through, the security being called to action to enforce the directives.
Critics have asked questions about the economic impact of the 14-day ban and how the country’s majority poor are going to live their lives under this partial lock down.
In Arua town, whereas some shops were closed, hand washing facilities instituted and a number of other guidelines were being implemented, sections of people continued to defy, Boda Bodas, taxis, some shops selling non-food items, others greeting and coming into close contact among other things on the first day of the latest directives.
Therefore, one is forced to ask whether such actions as is the case with Boda Boda’s continued operation in defiance of the direction is just plain defiance or people are pushed between a rock and a hard place.
Again, what are the implications of all the actions that the ordinary member of the public will take in the wake of this threat? Should for instance, the army and police be forced to chase and beat me to save me from a disease?
Whatever the questions and answers continue in the circles of the powers that be, stringent steps need to be taken and implemented robustly to minimise the threat.
It’s obvious that the COVID -19 will have adverse effects across the world and yet what is more important is the type of effect it will have on a particular group of people, death, economic hardship or all of them depending as well on the actions chosen.
A salt trader in Adjumani, a baby of eight months, and the rest of the unique cases as reported on 25th March point to a growing worry of the trends in Uganda and ultimately, we must make a decision even as ordinary citizens.
If I am asked, I would totally discourage a decision as bad as allowing the game between Atlanta and Valencia in the wake of the current threat.