SPECIAL REPORT: Whereas majority of Ugandans have seemingly accepted the existence of COVID-19 as a reality [though reluctantly], it still remains just a hearsay story to many.
But this is not the case to former Rubaga North MP Singh Katongole who has battled the dreaded disease head on, nearly losing to it before God mercifully opted to grant him another chance to live.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Express, Kampala NRM Chairman Singh Katongole narrated to our reporter how he found out he had contracted the disease, life in confinement and the feeling of having to live in constant knowledge that you are suffering from a disease whose cure not even medics know.
“What’s there to hide? Is this a situation to keep secret from the public anymore? No. Not at all. I actually want this to go out there to create awareness,” Begins our discussion when Katongole is asked if he felt comfortable telling his story.
Having previously served as a Member of Parliament for Rubaga North before he was prematurely thrown out by court, he was elected the ruling National Resistance Movement party Second Vice Chairperson for Kampala at the party National Executive Committee – a very powerful position in the party leadership.
Shortly after he was announced winner in the hotly contested race a few months ago, Katongole says he started feeling weak something he wrongly attributed to the tedious long campaigns he had been through. But nonetheless, he opted to go for medical check-up where it was established he had contracted the disease.
” To be honest I was scared. I knew possibly this could be the end. This is a disease you very well know there is no cure for it. What would you have thought if it were you?” He asked rhetorically in a cocktail of British, Luganda and Punjabi accent.
He says that unfortunately, the diagnosis seemed to have arrived quite later than it should have! By the time he was admitted to Nakasero Hospital, the virus had already spread into his respiratory system which required him to be confirmed to the facility’s dreaded Intensive Care Unit [ICU]
For twelve days, the politician, in mute mode would only be helped to breath by the complex machines whose tubes had worryingly been infused all-over his body.
In and out of the ICU, he says he spent two months under hospitalization. Here, he says there was much more than just the sickness to worry about.
“It was a situation where you are weak, psychotically beaten but you can’t have your loved ones to cheer you up. You keep thinking if it’s the end of your life, then the last time you saw them was when you were coming to the hospital. It’s more painful than the sickness itself.” He narrates.
” The other sad part of it is that you keep worrying you could have had your loved ones exposed to the disease since you have been living together. It makes you worry and constantly feeling guilty. You seem to judge yourself. You are all the time thinking it’s not only you that will die but then too,” Katongole adds.
The very fortunate side of Katongole’s story is that none of his immediate family members tested positive for the China flu disease when subjected to medical examination. On how this came to be, he says he was equally perplexed.
Asked if he could possibly identify where and from whom he could have acquired the disease, Katongole says he has completely no idea. He argues that it’s what makes this disease a very complex one since you can never guarantee you are safe because all the people around you,sick or not sick they appear the same. It’s therefore had to know where, when and from whom you acquired it.
He decries the reckless indifference exhibited by some political leaders who have defiantly disregarded the Ministry of Health preventative measures against the spread of the disease whom claims are clearly driving the country towards a catastrophe.
On whether he concurs with Archbishop Kizito Lwanga on having the elections suspended in interest of public safety, he says it’s a solution inapplicable under the current circumstances, arguing it’s a decision that should have been discussed in March or April.
” Is that really applicable under the current situation? I don’t think so. We are at a point where nothing can be reversed. That should maybe have been discussed in March or April but now it looks like is too late. We should just get ready for the challenges it will present but elections must go on. That’s my view.” Katongole opined.
He however cautioned the general public against being reckless in light of the situation, adding that much as we need to elect leaders and get elected, life should always be the first priority.