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Uncontrolled movements increase COVID-19 cases

Health experts have warned that the uncontrolled movement of people will cause a spike in COVID-19 infections.

Uganda’s COVID-19 cases stood at 12,743, with 7,556 recoveries and 112 deaths as of Sunday. The country, however, registered 434 new cases on October 28, the highest in a single day.

“People need to know that as we open up riskier sectors and activities, chances of contracting COVID-19 are high. In addition to vulnerability, we must understand that some activities are a lot riskier to inform our individual choices,” Dr Charles Olaro, the director of clinical services at the health ministry, said.

He said some of the highly risky places include places of worship, political gatherings, restaurants, gyms, bars or an amusement park, as well as sports stadia.

Although the Government did not approve the reopening of recreational facilities such as gyms and bars, the Police have on several occasions raided and arrested a number of people in bars.

The 9:00 pm curfew is still in force, but some people have resorted to drinking in bars during the day.

The Government, on the other hand, approved the reopening of places of worship to only accommodate 70 people, but this has not been the case as many have been seen with hundreds of worshippers.

“A number of these places of worship have poor ventilation. We want religious leaders to take the responsibility of regulating the numbers,” Olaro said.

The other places that he said could spread COVID-19 include salons, weddings or funerals, traveling by plane as well as practices such as hugging or shaking hands when greeting a friend.

Dr William Worodria, the COVID-19 head of case management, said the Government shifted its approach from containment to mitigation, saying they are now attending to those who are really sick.

The testing of fewer people, he said, is also premised on the fact that not all contacts are traceable, given the widespread community infections.

“Some 20% of the people with COVID-19 are quite sick and need hospitalization. These have comorbidities such as diabetes, cancer or are elderly and require treatment for both COVID-19 and their underlying conditions,” he said.

“But we also have 5% who have complications, severe disease and need oxygen support. The challenge with this group, however, is that the disease progresses very rapidly and these are people who may not detect that they are unwell and will come to hospital very late when they cannot breathe,” Worodria said.

Worodria, who is also a senior consultant pulmonologist at Mulago Hospital, said a patient who requires ICU will need sh7m in a government health facility and a lot more in a private health facility (sh1m to sh5m per day).

Government is still footing this bill. Worodria urged the public to play their part in combating the disease by following the standard operating procedures that have been proven to scale down the risk of infection.

“Put on masks well, avoid crowded places, and always practice good hygiene. The 5% are people who are hanging between life and death while 20% are really sick. We may not know who will fall in either category. It could be you or a relative and that is why you must care and stay safe,” he said.

A patient who requires ICU will need sh7m in a government health facility and a lot more in a private health facility (sh1m to sh5m per day). Government is still footing this bill.

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