With four deaths registered within a period of less than two weeks, experts have called for vigilance and adherence to Covid-19 prevention guidelines.
Currently, the country is grappling with the pandemic, without a vaccine or any other proclaimed cure, yet the country is facing an increase in the number of community infections.
Scientists have called for a high index of suspicion and strengthening of health promotion services to re-emphasise preventive measures in the community as the population has become relaxed with easing of the lockdown.
Dr Henry Kajumbula, the adviser of the Infection, Prevention and Control team, said there is need to find ways of making people adhere to the preventive measures.
“Avoiding gatherings, keeping a distance. Why should I go to the middle of town where I might find crowds just for the case of window shopping? People have been getting on boda bodas without following the guidelines we suggested. Put on masks, if you can, put on face shields. People are not taking this seriously, we really need to find a way of sensitising,” Dr Kajumbula said yesterday.
Community cases have been reported in at least 40 districts so far with Amuru and Kyotera as the most affected.
Experts have also advised Ugandans to seek medical attention even with just a mere flu during this period.
“We must continue to be vigilant and identify these symptoms as early as possible and seek actions now that it [Covid-19] is at community level,,” Dr Mukuzi Muhereza, the general sectary Uganda Medical Association, said.
As of yesterday Uganda had registered four Covid-19 deaths. Most either passed away form private hospitals or went through a private health facility.
The recent death sought treatment from Mengo hospital after presenting with symptoms consistent to Covid-19 such as cough , fever, difficulty in breathing and sought treatment from Mengo hospital before she was referred to Mulago hospital where she passed on.
Dr Muhereza said private hospitals should be brought on board to handle Covid-19 cases.
He added that there is need for training of health workers, equipping knowledge and skills but also providing personal protective equipment.
“Not everybody will have a test by Uganda Virus Research Institute or the government, so accreditation of the three private laboratories and more testing facilities is very important and it is in good line. If you get a problem, at least 60 per cent of us go to the private sector before we go to the public ones, so unless we equip them, we might lose patients unnecessarily,” Dr Muhereza said.
Uganda Association of Private Hospitals (UNAPH) has called upon government to bring the private entity on board to be able to bring down the community infections.
“Ministry of Health has to also realise, the private entities play a big role in the prevention of Covid-19 because government as a player cannot be everywhere to get partners on board. With such an inclusive approach we can really get down to the bottom of the communities where these infections are now,” Dr Denis Kimalyo, the executive director UNAPH, said.
How health facilities should handle patients
Dr Kajumbula has asked health facilities to be more cautious while dealing with all types of patients.
“We need to be more vigilant as we take in patients, if anyone person is coming in at the entry points, we need to look for those who have features that suggest Covid-19, respiratory systems. The moment we pick those, they should be put in an isolated place even if it’s a corner from other patients,” he said.
He added that all health workers that are to interface with them should put on masks.
“When we are dealing with patients, there are what we call standard precautions, meaning they apply to everyone. Some of the key things to follow are that patients with respiratory symptoms, especially cough, must put on a mask,” Dr Kajumbula added.
Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the Health minister, on Thursday said private hospitals are not allowed to offer Covid-19 treatment as all those facilities interested should write to the Ministry of Health first.
“If we start testing and creating laboratories all over the country without control, we run a very big risk of not controlling our activities. The cases will blow out of proportion,” she said.
Dr Aceng said government will ensure that case definition and case management protocols for Covid-19 are disseminated to all health facilities across the country.