Government has reported a significant increase in Covid-19 positive cases, warning that the country is nearing the onset of the second wave of the pandemic, which could affect livelihoods and the economy.
Several countries including Kenya are reinstating lockdowns to curb the surge in Covid-19 infections and hospitalisation as they experience another wave of the pandemic.
Statistics from the Ministry of Health indicate that for the last seven days, (March 27 to April 4), 222 cases were registered, which is higher than the 143 cases detected between March 20 and 26.
This means the number of positive cases increased from 0.7 per cent to 1.1 per cent within the same period.
Dr Henry Kyobe, the national incident manager for Covid-19, told Daily Monitor yesterday that the country is “almost starting to experience the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic.”
“But we are cautious. When that happens, we shall let the nation know,” he said.
Dr Kyobe added that the number of positive cases among contacts of Covid-19 patients is high.
Dr Monica Musenero, the senior presidential advisor on epidemics, said the rise in infections is due to weather changes.
“As the rainy season begins, we are going to enter the second wave of the pandemic,” Dr Musenero said.
She explained: “When people get cold due to change in weather, the cold represses the respiratory system and causes it to secrete stress hormones that increase one’s susceptibility to viral infections such as the coronavirus.”
The epidemiologist said cold weather also facilitates the survival of the virus.
“In dry seasons, when one talks, the saliva droplets [which has the coronavirus] dry up immediately and so they do not go very far to spread infections. Even survival on surfaces will be reduced,” she explained. Dr Rosemary Byanyima, the deputy director of Mulago Hospital, said the admission rate at the facility, the country’s main treatment centre, is still low. “We have one patient in ICU and two in High Dependency Unit (HDU). But we are only handling critical cases. We refer other cases to Entebbe Hospital,” Dr Byanyima said.
Dr Charles Olaro, the director of clinical services at the Health ministry, said there are 44 Covid-19 patients admitted to hospitals across the country and that six of these are in critical condition while one is in Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
A total of 41 are in public health facilities while three are in private facilities.
Last week on Thursday, 38 patients had been admitted to hospitals .
Low uptake of vaccines
Dr Henry Mwebesa, the director-general of health services, said on Monday night during a television show that the uptake of Covid-19 vaccine is worrying.
“We have more than 900,000 doses of the vaccine but to date only 110,000 people have been vaccinated against Covid-19. This means the uptake is still very low,” Dr Mwebesa said.
This national outlook contrasts sharply with central region where uptake is reported to have picked up as vaccination exercise enters fourth week.
Dr Denis Kimalyo, the executive director of Uganda National Association of Private Hospitals (UNAPH), said very few health workers from private facilities have received the Covid-19 jab.
“Private health facilities account for 80 per cent of health workers in the country but the uptake of Covid-19 vaccine is very low. Many health workers are so sceptical about the vaccine because of increasing issues being reported about the after-effects of the vaccine and many of them have developed a negative attitude towards the vaccine,” Dr Kimalyo said.
He added: “Government needs to develop new methods of sensitising health workers because it appears that the information they are sending to health workers is not working well. But some hospitals have vaccinated 40 or 80 of their workers.”
The UNAPH director declined to give the exact figure of those vaccinated.
The government had planned to vaccinate an estimated 150,000 health workers in the country between March 10 and 15 but the ministry has since removed the deadlines due to delays in delivering vaccines to vaccination sites across the country.
A total of 129,634 people have so far been vaccinated across the country in the last 26 days. This is about 4,985 people being vaccinated per day. The Ministry last week released a list of 689 vaccination points across the country.
The president received a Covid-19 jab on March 27 and the number of Ugandans who took the vaccination more than doubled to 129,634 in the following 8 days.
Dr Musenero asked Ugandans, especially those who are at high risk of infection and illness to run and take the jab as the second wave starts.
“I hope many of our people are vaccinated. The second wave is starting and that is why we are pressing that those who are highly susceptible should be vaccinated,” the expert said.
She refuted some public assumption that Ugandans have attained herd immunity due to long-term exposure to the virus and are not susceptible to the virus.