SOROTI, UGANDA: Poor adherence to the standard operating procedures put in place by the Ministry of Health to contain the spread of COVID-19 infections is to blame for the surge in infections in Teso sub region. Apparently, Teso region is currently the epicentre of COVID-19 infections.
Dr. Alfred Adakun, the in-charge of Princess Diana health center in Soroti city, who doubles as team leader for COVID-19 surveillance in Teso, says that the region recorded 1,234 cases of COVID-19 within two weeks. Information from the Ministry of Health daily alerts on COVID-19 infections indicate that Serere and Soroti are some of the districts that recorded more than 100 cases in the last 14 days.
Dr. Adakun says they have 56 patients at Soroti COVID-19 Treatment Unit while more than 1,000 patients are on home-based care management. According to Dr. Adakun, 33 percent of the COVID-19 patients are the elderly with severe disease. He revealed that the region had 8,433 COVID-19 contacts as of Friday, September 10, 2021.
“Some of the contacts have already tested positive but our major problem is resistance from the community in heeding to the guidelines given by the Ministry of Health. In some places, medics are being harassed when they go to the villages to evacuate patients whose condition has deteriorated. At burials of COVID-19 victims, some people ignore medical reports of COVID-19 deaths and don’t even allow health workers to carry on their duties”, he said while appearing on a radio talk show over the weekend.
Dr. Adakun added that some of the COVID-19 cases delay at private clinics as some people fear hospital admissions to CTU. “Some people operating private clinics fear telling people to observe SOPs while seeking medications. They think that clients will run away from them and resort to other clinics. In some instances, private clinics’ operators risk managing diseases with glaring signs of COVID-19 because of money”, he added.
Stephen Ochola, the Serere District LC V Chairperson says that community behaviour has made the fight against the deadly virus very difficult. He said that some of the people who test positive for COVID-19 and are placed under home-based care do not follow the guidelines and have thus continued to move freely in their respective villages.
“We have had scenarios where people run away from health facilities and end up dying in their homes. Others give wrong addresses and contacts to the health teams”, he said. Ochola added that two villages of Agule in Bugondo sub county and Mugarama landing site in Labor sub county are now the hotspots in the district.
In some trading centres, people wearing masks are intimidated and yet the lifestyle in the villages continues to risk many lives, according to Ambrose Onoria, the former RDC of Ngora district. The medics have also indicated that there is stigma in the villages especially from neighbours where COVID-19 patients are under on home-based care.
This has prevented a number of people who test positive from sharing information about the virus with others. Soroti CTU has managed more than 2,000 cases of COVID-19 and registered 105 deaths cumulatively.
Last week, the government airlifted 53 gas cylinders to Soroti Regional Referral Hospital following the increasing demand for oxygen among COVID-19 patients. The intervention at Soroti was part of the timely emergency response and delivery of medicines and medical supplies to the facility, which is also facing acute shortage of oxygen supply.