Covid-19: Uganda reports 20% decline in new cases

Wednesday October 21 2020
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Covid-19 testing tube

By Tonny Abet

Uganda has registered a 22 per cent decrease in new Covid-19 cases in the past three weeks, government statistics show.
The country recorded a total of 2,813 cases from September 28 to October 18, which is 1,188 cases below the 4,001 cases reported in the previous three weeks of September 7 to September 27.

According to the statistics, the country registered its highest number of Covid-19 cases between September 14 to September 20, where a total of 1,490 cases were reported in seven days. 
Prof Freddie Ssengooba, a public health expert at Makerere University, in an interview with Daily Monitor yesterday, attributed the decline to the alteration of the objective of Covid-19 testing in the country.

Experts say
“There has been a demand for testing which has come out of many other guidelines such as tests for travellers, employees and students,” he said, adding that the results from such tests do not give a clear picture of the trend of Covid-19 infections in the country.

“Covid tests that are geared towards tracking the epidemic and treating the sick are the ones we should be focusing on because they are more important,” he said.
Prof Ssengooba appealed to government to handle Covid-19 testing for purposes of compliance and increase testing for communities that are at high risk.
Dr Henry Kajumbula, the head of Covid-19 infection prevention and control in the Ministry of Health Scientific Advisory Committee, said the decline is not because the rate of Covid-19 infection is coming down, but testing for people who are less affected by Covid-19 could have increased.

Ministry of Health speaks
Dr Susan Nabadda, the commissioner of laboratory and diagnostic services at the Ministry of Health, said restricting Covid-19 testing to only particular groups of people could have caused a decline in new cases.
“Previously, people could just walk in and we test them. But due to a shortage of testing kits, the Ministry of Health came up with a particular testing strategy where we had to prioritise testing for people in Covid-19 response team, people with symptoms and contacts with symptoms,” she said.

The commissioner said although it is true that a number of people can not afford to pay for Covid-19 tests, mass testing is not a practical option because it is costly.
The country had tested a total of 523,399 Covid-19 samples as of yesterday and the cumulative confirmed cases are 10,691, according to Ministry of Health.