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COVID-19: Minister warns health workers against laying down tools

A section of health workers are threatening to lay down tools due to shortage of PPEs to safe guard them against contracting the virus

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Minister of Health, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng has warned health workers across the country not to lay down tools to protest the lack of personal protective Equipment – PPEs to respond to COVID-19 cases saying it is unethical.

Aceng who was assessing the COVID-19 situation in Masindi on Wednesday following a confirmed case says her Ministry has received reports that some health workers were planning to lay down tools over lack of  COVID-19  treatment PPEs.

She made it clear that any health worker who will go on strike over lack of protective gear to treat COVID-19 patients must be dealt with accordingly saying this is a battle for survival not losing life.

The Minister says whereas the health workers are doing a tremendous job of being at the forefront in the fight against COVID-19, they must not be indisciplined. She says government need them alive and equally government should not lose people because the health workers are striking and have laid down tools because of lack of protective gear.

According to Aceng, lack of COVID-19 PPEs is a global crisis adding that the government of Uganda is doing all it can to procure enough protective gear and are calling on the health workers to use the few available.

She says any protest by health workers over lack of protective gear will not be accepted and tolerated by the government.

Visiting the COVID-19 suspects at Masindi Hospital Quarantine center, Aceng tasked them to be firm and strictly adhere to the guidelines being issued to them by the health officials.

She promised the COVID-19 suspects to be quarantined at various facilities in the district will be under government support.

Addressing the Masindi COVID-19 Task force, Aceng cautioned them to be united and do away with their individual differences in order to deliver efficient services to the people of Masindi.

She too warned the Taskforce to properly use the shillings 165 million allocated to them in the fight against COVID-19 and come up with appropriate and sufficient accountability.

Dr. Aceng further saluted members of the armed forces for the tireless service they are offering in the fight against COVID-19, but asked them to be focused and guard against the pandemic.

The Minister further ordered for the immediate arrest of government officials who have adamantly refused to hand over government vehicles to the Taskforce saying action must be taken against them.

According to Aceng, Uganda as a country is still in great danger given the porous border points that are facilitating more cases into the country cautioning Ugandans who had started jubilating that the country has managed to combat the disease to stop immediately and should be extra careful and follow all the guidelines put aside by the government to combat the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Henry Mwebesa, the director general of health services at the ministry of health cautioned the people of Bunyoro sub region to be vigilant since they are at the porous border point with the DR Congo which is also struggling with the pandemic.

He challenges the local council leaders to be on the look and report suspicious persons in their areas.

Patrick Baguma, the Masindi District Health officer-DHO says the district is faced with a lot of challenges like shortage of personal protective equipment that is leading to threats of sit down by some health workers, inadequate means of transport saying the Task force has only 5 double cabin pickups and one operational ambulance. The vehicles are being used in surveillance, transportation of suspects, health workers, patrols by security agencies, transportation of patients among others.

Baguma further explained that since the COVID-19 case was confirmed in the district, 148 samples have been taken off from suspects and have all tested negative.

Speaking on behalf of the Masindi district LC5 chairperson, Salama Kugonza, the secretary for Finance Masindi District local government applauded the ministry of health for immediately responding to the Masindi COVID-19 confirmed case saying if the rapid assessment survey team had not been sent on ground, many would have contracted the disease silently.

Last Saturday a 29-year old policeman in Masindi tested positive for the COVID-19 during the ongoing Rapid Assessment survey introduced by the government. The patient has since been admitted at the Hoima Regional referral hospital COVID-19 treatment unit.

As a result of the confirmed case, 104 police officers that have been manning Masindi central police station have since been withdrawn, replaced and put under quarantine at the police barracks together with their family members.

Masindi currently has five COVID-19 quarantine centers including Masindi hospital with 43 suspects, Masindi Public primary school with 47 suspects, Masindi police barracks with 331 suspects, Masindi Army barracks with 34 suspects and Kabalega secondary school which is yet to receive any suspects.

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