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Health Ministry Warns on Rising Covid Infections as 4 Schools Record 120 Cases

The Ministry of Health has warned that the country is losing the battle against Covid-19 as hospitals and other health units continue to get overwhelmed with many admissions.

The ministry has also revealed that four schools have so far reported 120 cases. The affected schools are Bishop Cipriano SSS, Kihangire, Luzira (32 cases), Masaka College of Health Sciences, Masaka (28 cases), Vine Paramedical School, Masaka (30), and Kabale School of Nursing and Midwifery (30 cases).

Addressing journalists at the media centre in Kampala on Tuesday, 24 November 2020, Dr Joyce Moriku Kaducu, the State minister for Primary Health Care, said since the phased lifting of the lockdown, they have noticed a high level of complacency among the population and gross lack of discipline in following the set SOPs.

“This has led to the increased number of COVID-19 infections that we are currently experiencing. There is a widespread community transmission across the country, with at least 70 districts reporting cases on a weekly basis. To date, we are reporting an average of 1,900 cases weekly emerging from 127 districts,” Dr Kaducu said, adding that Kampala continues to account for the bulk of the cases while West Nile, Elgon, North sub-region remain the main transmission hotspots. To date, only 9 districts have not reported a case, she said.

The minister said in the past one month, they have witnessed patients with severe forms of the disease accompanied with more deaths, as the vulnerable populations such as the elderly (above 60) and those with co-morbid conditions (such as diabetes, hypertension) are more exposed in their communities.

“However, from our analysis, we shall see more deaths attributable to COVID-19 as the Ugandan outbreak has progressively shifted from the younger age-group (30-39 years) to older age-groups, 50-59 and 60+ years,” Dr Kaducu said.

For schools, the minister said there is poor adherence to COVID 19 preventive measures (including use of face masks, social distancing and hand washing), there is stigma among students which is affecting the student’s ability to report on symptoms and therefore results in big outbreaks and private schools are unwilling to report on cases for fear of closure.

Dr Kaducu said schools should enforce “stay home” policy for learners and teachers that feel unwell, with quick linkage to health authorities.

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“Therefore, the Ministry of Health does not recommend closure of schools as this will only heighten further community transmission and further create a disruption in the learners’ academic progression. However, it is only under special circumstances .i.e. capacity of the school or district to respond to COVID-19 and increasing number of cases in the school, will the Ministry of Health recommend closure,” she said.

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