District leaders urge vigilance as Covid cases shoot up again

 Jinja Resident City Commissioner Maj David Matovu receives his first dose of Covid-19 vaccinate during the launch of the exercise in the area on March 15,2021. Ministry of Health statistics indicate that at least 16m people are vaccinated out of the 22 million people who are 18 years and above.  PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • The cases being reported are higher than the average of 10 cases or below that were being reported per day since January 2022.

District health officers (DHOs) have urged the public to take precautions amid increased cases of Covid-19 across the country.
 Health minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng on Sunday (June 5) said the country has started experiencing an increase in the number of daily infections.
 “We have started experiencing an increase in the daily number of Covid-19 cases compared to the stable trends we observed since January 2022,” she said.
 “This increase is similar to the rise we faced in June 2021 when the Delta variant was prevalent,” Dr Aceng added.
 In Kisoro, Kabale and Rubanda districts, authorities have appealed to residents to observe the standard operating procedures (SOPs) so as to reduce the rising cases of Covid-19.

 Kisoro District Health Officer (DHO) Dr Stephen Nsabiyunva said since March 28, several Congolese refugees fleeing the fighting between M23 rebels and their government soldiers have tested positive for Covid-19.
 “Right now, we have 15 cases of Covid-19 at Nyakabande refugee transit camp. The cases are not severe and no one is critically ill. An isolation centre has been created at Nyakabande refugee transit camp to accommodate the refugees that test positive for Covid-19 to avoid transmitting the disease to others,” Dr Nsabiyunva said on Wednesday.
 Rubanda and Kabale have registered two and three cases, respectively.

 “All Covid-19 positive cases are not severe and the patients are under home-based care. We appeal to the public to strictly observe the Covid-19 standard operating procedures to avoid contracting the deadly disease,” Dr Abdon Birungi, the DHO of Rubanda, said.
 At Soroti Regional Referral Hospital, which is a Covid-19 treatment centre for Teso Sub-region, the number of new cases on admission started to resurface three weeks ago.

Severe vs mild cases
 Dr Ben Watmon, the hospital director, said they first received three cases, which were severe, and had to put the patients on oxygen, while the others were being treated under home-based care.
 He said the unit is getting a little busier because the numbers coming for testing because of manifesting symptoms is getting bigger, yet the people out in the public are not taking precautionary measures.
 Mr Watmon said they are still strict on adherence to SOPs for people accessing the hospital for medical services.
 Dr Wilson Etolu, the head of the Covid-19 treatment unit at Soroti hospital, said majority of those testing positive for the disease are being put under home based care.
 He advised those under home-based care to isolate themselves in order to avoid the disease spreading to others.

 Isingiro DHO Dr Edson Tumuheirwe said they have registered six mild cases in the district.
 In Ibanda, the DHO Julius Bamwine, said: “By Tuesday, June 7, we had registered two cases, all around Ibanda Municipality. These cases are mild and are being managed at home. As the district, we resumed preventive measures.”
 In both Mbarara District and Mbarara City, no case had been registered by Wednesday.
 “There are no new Covid-19 cases so far recorded in Mbarara. However, the medical team is still encouraging the public to observe SOPs and continue the campaign to vaccinate people,” Mbarara assistant DHO, Dr Agatha Nshabohurira said.

 Dr Jino Abiriga, the Masindi DHO, said by Wednesday, the district had no single case of Covid-19.
 In Kasese, 21 new cases had been recorded by Monday, according the district Covid-19 surveillance focal person, Mr Samuel Kabinga Muhindi.
 He said because of the surge, the district has finalised plans to conduct another batch of mass vaccination targeting people between the age bracket of 12 and 17 years. 
 “The exercise is expected to be carried out on June 15 at various schools. This was after we realised that the majority of the people presenting mild conditions are children who could have missed the vaccinations,” Mr Kabinga said.
 Kitagwenda DHO Dr Christine Karungi said by Wednesday, they had no Covid-19 case in the entire district. 
 The acting DHO of Kabarole District, Mr Brian Kisembo, said by Tuesday, of the three Covid-19 patients they had admitted to Fort Portal Regional Referral Hospital, two had been discharged.

 “Our people are reluctant about observing SOPs and we are getting new cases. I want to appeal to the public to start wearing their masks and avoid crowds,” he said.
 In Lira City, the Ministry of Health in partnership with the area Covid-19 taskforce has embarked on sensitising the masses to observe the Covid-19 SOPs.
 They are doing a road drive, urging the public to take all the necessary precautionary measures to fight Covid-19 pandemic.
 In Pader, no new cases had been registered as of Wednesday, the acting DHO who doubles as secretary for Covid-19 taskforce, Ms Anna Apio, said.
 She said her office has alerted all health facilities in the district to start testing and monitoring of patients who report to their facility with symptoms of Covid-19.
 Dr Edward Muwanga, the Kyotera DHO, said: “We have not registered any case for almost one and half months now yet we have been doing tests in all our health facilities and at the border point of Mutukula.”

Treated and discharged
 In the neighbouring Rakai District, however, Dr Daniel Kapere, the Covid-19 focal person, said some three cases were detected a couple of weeks ago but the patients were treated and discharged.
 Dr Emmanuel Kaggwa, the Masaka Regional Referral Hospital surveillance focal person, said: “We received five community alerts yesterday (Tuesday), but are currently waiting for the results.’’
 He revealed that 86 percent of residents in the area received their first jab against 46 percent who got the second jab.

 “Our team is in preparation to carry out a mass vaccination campaign for at least five days with effect from June 15 and we believe more people will be inoculated,” Dr Kaggwa said.
 Dr Godfrey Adubi, the Kalangala assistant DHO, said they are currently reorganising their isolation centre where they can accommodate patients in case they register new cases.
 Mpigi DHO Dr Margret Nanoozi, said: “I have not received new cases in my area, but we are aware of the fact that Covid-19 has struck again and our surveillance team is on high alert.”

Rising cases
The DHO of Wakiso, Dr Mathias Lugoloobi, said they recorded 10 new cases last week and the number keeps on rising.
 “So, my message to Ugandans is that they wear masks to protect themselves because Covid-19 cases are rising again. We don’t want to lose more people this time round when the community is aware of what to do,” he said.
 In Yumbe, Mr Zubeir Ojjo, the assistant DHO, said from May-June, they registered six new cases of Covid-19 in the district.
 “We are prepared to handle the cases of Covid-19 in the district but the turnout for Covid test is very low,” he said.
 In Arua City, the Covid-19 task force, has resumed weekly meetings to discuss the gaps, and how to combat the pandemic in the area. 
In Koboko, the district and municipality have registered a cumulative number of 1,367 since the pandemic began.

What scientists say
Government scientists have attributed the slight increase in reported cases of Covid-19 to waning immunity and a suspected emergence of mutated forms of omicron named BA.4 and BA.5.

The new types have been reported by scientists to be more infectious than the older versions of Omicron and are capable of escaping immune protection from previous infection or vaccination.

Dr Misaki Wayengera, the head of scientists advising the government on Covid-19, told this newspaper that: “Dwindling immunity after vaccination, new variant and reluctance of populace in observing Standard Operating Procedures,” have triggered the increase in infections. The ministry said 34 new cases of infections were detected on June 5. On June 7, 124 new cases were confirmed in the country.
Compiled by Bill Oketch, Robert Muhereza, Simon Peter Emwamu, Robert Owot, Emmanuel Arineitwe, Leonard Mbishinzimana, Rajab Mukombozi, Sheillar Mutesi, Felix Ainebyoona, Alex Ashaba, Joel Kaguta, Ismail Bategeka, Warom Felix Okello, Rashul Adidi, Robert Elema, Al Mahdi Ssenkabirwa, Ambrose Musasizi, Brian A Kesiime, Joseph Kiggundu & Richard Kyanjo