Medical workers with Covid-19 could be new recruits – experts

Tuesday June 2 2020

Mulago medical staff who are handling Covid-19

Mulago medical staff who are handling Covid-19 patients. Left is hospital director Dr Baterana Byarugaba. FILE PHOTO  

By IRENE ABALO & TONNY ABET

Health workers are at a high risk of contracting coronavirus because of the new and unique nature of infections in Uganda, experts have said.

By yesterday, the country had 457 confirmed cases of Covid-19. It also registered the first infection of seven health workers on Sunday.

Dr Joyce Moriku Kaducu, the Minister of State for Primary Healthcare, told Daily Monitor yesterday the infected health workers could be new recruits.

“These could be people who have just been recruited under the Ministry [of Health] when we made a call. They may not be well conversant with management in isolation units. We are still doing investigations to find out what happened in Lira. Anything can happen anywhere. Mistakes are common,” Dr Moriku said.

She said the cases could be as a result of laxity among medical workers because patients in many isolation wards are not bedridden.

“Those cases are just like you and any other Uganda. They are walking in Gulu Clinical School compound. They are seated, they are doing exercises. They are all mild cases. They only go to bed at night and are on oral medication,” Dr Moriku said.

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She said anyone can contaminate their faces while adjusting the mask.

A nurse and a doctor from Lira hospital are among the health workers who contracted the virus. The hospital has16 health workers handling coronavirus patients.
Dr Paul Ajuk, the Gulu Regional Referral Hospital senior administrator, said most of the cases among health workers were a result of negligence.

“The patients look like you who is normal. If you have all the protection, there is no way you can get coronavirus. There is just laxity on the part of the medical workers,” Dr Ajuk said.

Gulu hospital has 10 health personnel handling Covid-19 patients. They stay in quarantine to avoid infecting their families and communities.

The Health ministry also announced plans to expand isolation wards at Lira hospital to admit more patients.
It also plans to recruit more staff in management and treating of the patients.

Dr Misaki Wayengera, a filo virologist and immunologist from Mulago National Referral Hospital Medical School and the chairperson of the Covid-19 scientific advisory committee, said last month that Uganda has not had any Covid-19-related deaths because the cases have been few and manageable.

“Once we have so many cases, the doctors will not have time to take care of each person. You will begin to see deaths. We do not have many specialised doctors to handle the virus. We have highly trained doctors that we put in this situation to avoid health worker infections,” Dr Misaki said.

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com

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