COVID-19 Cases in Gulu Rises from 43 to 57. What Next?

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Guest Post I Chowoo Willy – From one case received three weeks ago to 57 today, this is overwhelming, the hospitals have run out of beddings, staff and drugs to manage these huge numbers of patients mostly returning drivers from south Sudan.

The hospital has 350 beds, but these are for the other patients who are usually admitted in the other wards, the isolation ward had the capacity to admit only 13 patients but it when up to 14 –they had to squeeze to accommodate one extra patient.

The hospital initial plan was to have the former school of Clinical Officers put to isolation ward but the effort is limping as the response from the Ministry of Health has been too slow.

With this influx, covid-19 patients are not sleeping in un-renovated former dormitories –like other ordinary patients.A tent that can accommodate 16 patients have been erected at the compound, but still is incomplete, there is no partition, meaning it is not to house the increasing number of patients.

Gulu District Covid-19 Taskforce chairman and the RDC Maj Santos Okot Lapolo said they had requested for three tents but they were sent only one.

“At the moment we have 57 patients, and the number is expected to increase any time, we requested for three tents, but they sent us one, we are in need of support seriously, adds Lapolo”

According to him, they are facing the challenge of feeding covid-19 patients because they are different tribes and their choices for food also vary.

The hospital does not have enough beds, and by yesterday they were having a shortage of drugs to treat these patients, but the ministry responded by sending additional medical staff to the already 8 tired ones who had been at the hospital.

Dr Luwum Janani-the in charge of the isolation ward, they were in need of more drugs and other support to manage the isolation ward.

Maj Lapolo said the hospital ICU is not okay and he expresses fear that if the number hits 100, they don’t have the ICU, “it is reported that in every 100 patients, there are always two cases of patients going into ICU, and our ICU needs to be worked on”Most of these patients are from drivers from Elegu town Council in Amuru district and there have been two cases from the community who had contacts with them.

Amuru district Chairman Lakony Michael said today they will start evacuating over 600 drivers who were supposed to undergo covid-19 testing back to their countries. This is to ease work at the crowded Elegu boarder.

“All these truck drivers shall be tested from their exist points at Busia and Malaba for the Kenyans and Mutukula for the Tanzanians, they will have lead cars”, Lakony says.

He said that all the trading centres along Gulu-Nimule road have security deployed to stop the drivers from stopping along the way.It is also reported more than 1600 truck drivers are stuck between Elegu and Nimule in South Sudan as the screening exercise is too slow.

There have been cases of some people sneaking in from the porous point in Uganda through Elegu. The Covid -19 task force had put Elegu under lockdown but this is not healing a fruit.The Acting RDC of Amuru District and the chairman of the covid-19 task force Oceng Geoffrey Osborn said they plan to put the entire Elegu in quarantine to avoid them making contacts with the drivers.

“We shall request the OPM to provide them with food relief, lockdown is enough for Elegu “, Oceng saidThe cumulative number of recovered patients is sixty-nine (69) out of the 212 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Uganda and 143 on admission with 57 of them are at Gulu Regional referral hospital.

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