BY ROBERT KAMUKAMA
JINJA, Uganda|SHIFTMEDIA| Jinja Regional Referral Hospital has temporarily closed its emergency unit following the death of two male COVID-19 patients at the facility.
The hospital director Dr Florence Tugumisirize confirmed the temporary closure of the unit without divulging details.
Although the facility was disinfected on Monday evening and Tuesday morning, patients and their attendants started fleeing for fear of contracting Covid-19. As a result, management temporarily relocated some of the patients to the outpatient department. However, most of them opted to seek medical services from lower health facilities.
This comes at a time when the cases in Uganda have reached an alarming 5,000 mark in just a month with 58 deaths. The latest death is that of a legislator, Hon. Faith Alupo who represents Palisa Women in Parliament.
Uganda has seen a recent spike in new infections, having seen an initial slow rise in its caseload.
Continentally, the number of confirmed COVID-19 infections stood at 1,353,283 with 32,625 deaths, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
Uganda’s latest figures come as the World Health Organization urged countries to remain vigilant and keep track of possible mutation of the virus.
“As we continue to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa, being able to not only track its evolution, but also assess the possible mutation of the virus is crucial to mounting an effective response,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “Through this new laboratory network dedicated to genome sequencing we can better develop vaccines and treatment which are tailored to Africans and eventually bring COVID-19 under control.”
A guard who spoke to URN on condition of anonymity says the facility was closed at around 6:30 pm on Tuesday. “I saw health workers covered in full protective gear move from the emergency unit but patients who were recovering steadily opted to depart without official discharge from the hospital administrators,” he said.
A patient attendant, Derrick Namwanza said he took his father to a clinic after realizing the risk of COVID-19 infection at the facility. “I think patients should be tested on arrival. This arrangement of handling patients in the same area without knowing each one’s status might increase their risk of contracting the virus,” he said.