Kampala, Uganda | URN | Local tailors in Kitgum Municipality are reaping big from selling reusable homemade cloth masks thanks to recent government directives on mass use of masks.
President Yoweri Museveni during his recent address recommended that everyone should wear a mask as a way of controlling the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The face coverings are particularly recommended in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
The recommendation came with increased demand for face masks across the country, an opportunity that tailors are now taking advantage of to bridge the gap on the shortage of surgical disposable face masks.
Caesar Olenge, a tailor working with Jesus care trading enterprise in Kitgum municipality says he hasn’t been working for the past one month and the demand for masks has created an opportunity for him to earn a living after depleting his savings.
Olenge’s face masks are sewn using local fabric and sold at 2,000 Shillings each. He notes that for the past two days, he has sold more than 100 pieces of cloth face masks earning him 200,000 Shillings.
Olenge has also secured a contract with one of the Non-Government Organizations in the district where he will be supplying 200 pieces of face cloth masks.
Another Tailor, Maureen Acayo, a resident of Pandwong division says that many people began flocking her home to buy cloth masks that she is sewing using African Fabric. Acayo charges between 3,000 to 5,000 Shillings for each mask and has so far sold 150 pieces in two days.
She expects to make more money in the coming days as locals embrace the use of cloth mask for protecting themselves against contracting coronavirus disease.
“My source of livelihood had been affected by the COVID-19 lockdown for nearly two months. Now I am able to make some money from home through sewing cloth masks,” she told this publication in an interview.
Brian Okello, a boda boda rider within Kitgum municipality says using cloth masks as an alternative will help them control the spread or contracting coronavirus.
He says that at the onset of the pandemic, surgical face masks were sold expensively which left many people unable to purchase them yet their lives were also at risk.
Denis Opoka, a resident of Bajere village in Labongo Akwang sub-county who has been using cloth masks says it’s a good alternative than disposable surgical face masks or even the costly N-95 Respirators. He is however skeptic on whether cloth masks can curb COVID-19 since many doctors have been discouraging their use.
During one of the weekly COVID-19 task force meetings in Kitgum Municipality last month, Dr Geoffrey Okello, the acting medical superintendent of Kitgum General Hospital warned locals against the use of locally sewn cloth masks. He noted that the local materials being used by tailors were not medically proven in preventing the spread of viruses.
Another Doctor who didn’t want to be named however says using cloth masks will help to save surgical masks and N-95 respirators which are on high demand by health workers and medical first responders at the front line of covid-19 fight.
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The Centre for Disease Control (CDC), recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
The recommendation followed studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus does not show symptoms and that even those who eventually develop symptoms can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Uganda currently stands at 114.