Non-Covid-19 doctors to buy own masks, says government

Friday April 3 2020

Health minister Dr Ruth Aceng address the media

Health minister Dr Ruth Aceng address the media in Kampala yesterday. PHOTO BY ABUBAKER LUBOWA 

By DAMALI MUKHAYE

Government has said it will buy Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for only medical workers handling suspected and confirmed coronavirus patients, but other medics can buy the equipment at their own cost.

Dr Ruth Jane Aceng, the Minister of Health, while addressing the nation yesterday, said only doctors who are taking samples from suspected Covid-19 patients for testing and those treating the confirmed cases will receive PPEs from government.
“Not everybody needs masks. Only medical officers getting into close contact with Covid-19 patients need them. But if some people want masks, they can purchase them and do not wait for the government. Our own company Nytil has started making face masks and they are being sold cheaply,” Ms Aceng said.

She said the ministry is going to issue guidelines on the use of these PPEs.
Some medical officers in government hospitals have been turning away patients since they do not have protective gears, but Ms Aceng said doctors handling other non-coronavirus diseases do not need masks. She said the medical workers should proceed to treat those patients who show up.
The president of Uganda Medical Association, Dr Richard Idro, declined to comment on the government announcement. Dr Idro said he had been in a meeting and could not respond to a statement he had not seen.

Ms Aceng also revealed that the Health ministry has been provided with Shs157b, and added that the Ministry of Finance is willing to receive requests for additional money for PPEs. Uganda has 44 confirmed cases of coronavirus without any reported death. Ms Acenga said all patients were doing well.
Mr Henry Kyobe, a new Covid-19 incident commander, at the Ministry of Health, said they have traced all the suspects who got into contact with the confirmed 44 cases.
He said they have identified all 766 people who got into contact with the confirmed cases across the country and are being followedup. He said the 44 cases will be re-tested tomorrow before working on the procedure to discharge them if they test negative.

Ms Aceng, however, said the ministry will test all people who came from Dubai between March 7 and March 22 when Entebbe airport was closed. “We have obtained the passenger manifest of the travellers dating back to March 7. The manifest will be correlated with the health forms filled by the travellers and will be used to track all those who returned. They will be screened, tested and followed up,” she said.

New guidelines

The Ministry of Health yesterday issued new guidelines about other diseases.
Dr Aceng said routine immunisation services across the country will continue on the scheduled days and time. “There should not be more than five mothers in one room. If they show up, put them in different rooms,” Dr Aceng said.
Other guidelines include:
• Vaccines usually given to children at schools have been suspended.
• All parents should take their children for immunisation to nearby health facilities.
• All other services in hospitals will continue.
• Pregnant women are especially advised to deliver in health facilities and they should be given priority to access hospitals.
• Services for HIV and TB should continue and those patients should also be given priority to access these services.
COVID-19 cases
• 44 COVID019 cases confirmed (14 from UAE, 14 from UK and 2 from China. Masaka (3) Iganga (1), Hoima (2) and Adjumani (1).
• 2,661 travellers have been identified for either self-quarantine or institutional quarantine.
• 1,015 high risk travellers currently under institutional quarantine
• 766 people involved in contact with the 44 positive cases being followed up.
• Shs157b released by government to combat the pandemic.

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dmukhaye@ug.nationemdia.com

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