Experts blame Covid-19 deaths on rising community infections

Tuesday August 11 2020
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Traders in Kikuubo, a shopping hub in downtown Kampala, go about their businesses. PHOTO/ ALEX ESAGALA

Scientists have attributed the Covid-19 deaths in the country to increasing community infections.
As of yesterday, Uganda had registered 1,297 cases with 1,137 recoveries and nine deaths.

Dr Bruce Kirenga, the director of Makerere University Lung Institute, yesterday said the intensity of exposure to the virus is very high with community cases, whose source of origin and when they got infected is unknown.

He said previously, the cases would be detected and treated early but since the partial reopening of the lockdown, community infections are hard to be detected early and treated in time.
“We have community cases, we do not know when they got infected, we do not know the source, so the intensity of exposure is very high and when people fall sick, it is not like they go to the hospital straight away,” Dr Kirenga told this newspaper.

Dr Kirenga said initially, the country was battling with cases mostly from truck drivers but this has since changed.
“Originally, we would get someone who has been driving his truck from Mombasa. That person is different from this old woman (case) with all the diabetes and other diseases who has been sick for several weeks at home and people are figuring out what to do with her and now she comes to the hospital,” he said.

Dr Henry Kajumbula, the adviser on the infection, prevention and control team, said the deaths might be an indicator of the increasing community infections which expose the vulnerable to the disease.

“If it is in the community, then you get more people who might be vulnerable such as elderly, people with other morbidities getting exposed. That could be the factor,” Dr Kajumbula said yesterday.

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The deaths come at a time when a section of the public has ignored observing Covid-19 preventive guidelines such as wearing facemasks, washing hands and sanitising, among others.

Many taxi conductors no longer sanitise passengers before they board while some motorcyclists are seen carrying more than one passenger.

Dr Charles Olaro, the director of Curative Services at the Ministry of Health, said the deaths were expected, and more might happen if the public does not observe the guidelines.

“It was expected that deaths would occur, it was just matter of time. We have been telling people we need to prevent not to get to that level and we are still telling them the same thing that we risk the number of deaths will increase if we do not abide by the guidelines,” Dr Olaro said

“The issue is not the taxi drivers, the issue is who boards the taxi and those who board boda bodas. The aspect is that the taxi driver is motivated to make profit but it is the person who is worried about his life, he has to take precautions,” he added.

Ministry of Health has on several occasions urged the public to observe the guidelines .
natukunda@ug.nationmedia.com

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