Former Forum for Democratic Change party president, Col. Dr. Kiiza Besigye want any recommendation by scientists on specifications for masks, to be published, so that, whoever wants can produce them.
His reaction stems from the 14th Presidential National Address on the COVID-19 pandemic, during which he made it mandatory foe every Ugandan to use face mask while in public, and also announced that his government would provide these masks free of charge for all Ugandans above the age of 6 years.
While Dr. Besigye agrees that the post-lockdown popular use of masks is a good safeguard, he says that as seen from WHO guidelines, there’s no scientifically specified type of non-medical masks.
The USA Health Protection Agency, CDC, has guidelines on how various materials can be used to make non-medical face masks at home. Besigye wonders why a Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC), like Uganda, would insist on making and issuing every citizen a face mask.
“Moreover, decree that everyone stays at home until you issue them with the “Government” mask! Government can give mask specifications (if they have any) and then supply those who can’t get masks for themselves” he advises.
Besigye adds that even for the “Government” supplied masks, the PPDA Procedures should be followed to give all Ugandans an equal opportunity to supply the masks.
Government has contracted Nytil Company to make masks for all Ugandans. These masks will be ready for distribution in the next 14 days, according to President Yoweri Museveni.
It remains unclear however, whether these will be disposable or re-usable masks and how many each person shall receive. Until they are ready, no Ugandan will be allowed to return to business, except those that have been at it.
But, the former presidential candidate argues that it seems a dubious deal is already made with Nytil (Southern Range Nyanza), Jinja to “produce” and supply the masks.
“I’ll say more about this separately. Forcing “Government” masks on all is unacceptable and illegal. It could even give credence for the security threats that have been circulating about giving out of poisoned masks. What would happen if my mask gets lost/stollen/spoilt soon after getting one from “Government”. Would I apply for replacement and stay home till I am supplied with another” he wondered.
The Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda is expected to clarify on several issues in the President’s speech that has left rather many Ugandans in a state of confusion.