Gulu – Uganda: The Acholi Parliamentary Group (APG) have vehemently opposed the Ministry of Health decision to isolate a Covid-19 patient in Gulu district. A truck driver, who was destined for South Sudan and was confirmed to be COVID-19 positive, after having been let go at the Malaba border post immediately after taking the test, was tracked and intercepted in Kamdini.
The group led by APG chairman Hon. Okin PP Ojara of Chua West, followed an alarm from one of their own Hon. Samuel Odonga Otto, the Aruu county member of parliament. In a video widely and rapidly circulated on social media, Odonga Otto is heard urging the locals not to allow the ambulance pass and reach Gulu regional referral hospital.
Aruu County MP, Samuel Odonga Otto led the local elders at Palenga Trading Centre in Omoro district arguing that Gulu Regional Referral Hospital where the patient was heading is not well equipped to manage the case.
Kilak South County MP, Gilbert Olanya who doubles as the secretary for Acholi Parliamentary Group (APG) equally states that the decision by Ministry of Health to direct the patient to Gulu was uncalled for since he was intercepted in Oyam District and should have been referred to Lira Regional Referral Hospital.
The driver of the truck registration number KCE 448E, entered Uganda through Malaba on April 12, en route to South Sudan. After his results were confirmed, he was stopped at Kamdini Trading Centre in Oyam District, about 65Km south of Gulu Town and 135 km north of Kampala.
The MOH team who intercepted the driver had made a decision to isolate him at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital. Upon learning about this move, the local leaders started a quick mobilization and blockaded the Gulu-Kampala highway reportedly to stop the ambulance from entering Gulu town with the patient.
Ministry of Health officials picked him from Kamdini, and decided to take him to Kampala and not nearby Gulu Regional Referral Hospital (GRRH). All drivers entering Uganda are tested but allowed to continue driving until their results are released.
Meanwhile, Polly Philip Okin Ojara, the Chua East County legislator and Chairperson Acholi Parliamentary Group (APG) contended that all districts must handle their own COVID-19 cases basing on the supplementary budget recently passed by Parliament.
Hon. Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, the Gulu District Chairperson divulged to Northernnewswire that Ministry of Health had ordered the ambulance to take the patient to Gulu before Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanya intervened, consulted with the line Ministry and ordered the ambulance to take the patient to Entebbe Grade B Hospital.
The Ebola Trauma on Northern Uganda
On October 8, 2000, an outbreak of an unusual febrile illness with occasional hemorrhage and significant mortality was reported to the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Kampala by the superintendent of St. Mary’s Hospital in Lacor, and the District Director of Health Services in the Gulu District. A preliminary assessment conducted by MoH found additional cases in Gulu District and in Gulu Hospital, the regional referral hospital. On October 15, suspicion of Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) was confirmed when the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Johannesburg, South Africa, identified Ebola virus infection among specimens from patients, including health-care workers at St. Mary’s Hospital. How the disease broke out in Gulu having been reported in Congo earlier, remains a mystery up to date.
According to Hon. Aol Betty Ocan, there is no tribal card at play here, but rather the harrowing memory of ebola which is still fresh on the minds of northern Uganda.
The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Uganda still remains at 55 with 12 recoveries.