Ministry of Health warns of a new wave of coronavirus infections in Uganda

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Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng says Uganda may be hit by a new wave of coronavirus; File Photo

The Ministry of Health has warned that Uganda should be ready for a new wave of coronavirus infections as the COVID-19 pandemic in the country takes a new direction.

The minister for Health Dr. Ruth Jane Aceng said, while Uganda has succeeded in keeping the spread of coronavirus within manageable levels, the virus has evolved requiring more stringent response measures to mitigate the pandemic.

This, she said has been worsened by the growing laxity in the public’s adherence to the guidelines to control the spread of coronavirus.

Dr Aceng was addressing the nation on Sunday during a live broadcast in which the health ministry presented accountability of funds they has so far received from various entities towards the fight against COVID-19 in Uganda.

“Laxity of Ugandans is alarming. In early days, washing hands was recorded to have improved from 23 percent to 86 percent, but it has now gone down to 56 percent” – she said.

She noted that as time progresses, the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, readiness and preparation is paramount while standard procedures in stopping the spread of the virus must be maintained.

“We have been experiencing clusters of infections in communities and if Ugandans do not get serious, the country will move to stage four which is full-blown transmission…this could be worse” she added.

Dr. Aceng said that Uganda is at stage three when sources of the infections are untraceable and is identified by people who haven’t had travel history getting infected. She says the spread at this stage is extremely contagious according to WHO.

She however said the lockdown doesn’t stop Covid-19 transmission but helps to prepare for the worst case scenario. she noted that as the pandemic progresses, exhaustion in the public as well as health workers also crops up and if this is not handled carefully, the results can be catastrophic.

The minister also disputed allegations that the COVID-19 statistics for Uganda have been exaggerated to attract more funding, saying the figures provided are a true reflection of the situation on the ground.

In the light of a worst situation which the ministry says is most likely, MOH officials said government and Ugandans must be prepared and maintain strict adherence to SOPs.

“It is imperative that the entire country is ready and prepared for the worst case scenario” PS MOH Dr. Diana Atwine said.

Diana Atwine said the ministry’s initial 6-month preparedness and response plan and budget for COVID-19 has been extended to july 2021 given the fact that the epidemic is likely to continue.

She also justified the expansion of treatment centers for COVID-19 including a 150 bed capacity at Namboole stadium and regional centers as meant to enable the MOH to comfortably manage COVID patients wherever they are identified.

“The allegations that the MOH is spreading patients all over the country so that they look to be many are baseless rather, we are preparing the country in readiness” She said.

She said COVID-19 is still in Uganda and in case the pandemic is contained, the supplies procured including ICU beds and test kits being procured will be taken to health facilities. She reported that the country has also procured ICU beds to be installed in regional referral centers, more test kits and recruited more staff to handle any eventualities that may arise.

“Those of you who have been watching news and know what has been going on in Brazil, the United States, Italy and many other countries; Uganda needs to be ready. We have to be ready and prepared for whatever comes on board” Dr. Atwine said.

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