Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT & URN | Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda has gone into self isolation after some of his contacts tested positive for COVID-19.
Rugunda is head of the national task force for COVID-19 and has been at the forefront on fund raising and food distribution efforts to contain the pandemic.
“Friends, I have gone into self isolation after some of my contacts tested positive for COVID19. My own test result is negative, however, I have taken this decision as a health recommended measure,” he said in a tweet.
Julius Mucunguzi, his Communications Advisor confirmed the development. He said, ” Prime Minister Rugunda has gone into self isolation for 14 days effective 4th June 2020, after some of his contacts tested positive for COVID-19. The Prime Minister’s own test result is negative, however, he has taken this decision as a health recommended measure.”
Earlier in the day, the Ministry of Health announced 35 new COVID-19 cases, sending Uganda’s total confirmed cases to 557.
Twenty of the confirmed cases are alerts and contacts to previously confirmed cases from Kampala, Arua, Mayuge, Kyotera, Wakiso, Dokolo and Amolatar.
The prime minister’s results were among the 2,267 samples that were tested yesterday for the disease. From the results that were released today morning, 35 new cases were confirmed. 15 of the cases were from truck drivers while 20 cases were from alerts and contacts to truck drivers or people who have tested positive for the disease.
According to health regulations, the prime minister will self-isolate for 14-days. During those 14 days, health ministry officials are supposed to check on him once a day and take his vitals. If he does not develop any COVID-19 related symptoms, he will be retested after the 14-days and given an isolation permit which confirms that he has tested negative for the disease.
Dr Diana Atwine, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Health told URN this morning that the decision to test ministers was made after they were identified as a high-risk group.
“Ministers have been moving around meeting very many people. For this reason, they need to be tested. And we have not done this for only ministers but also the Ministry of Health staff and journalists who meet so many people,” Dr Atwine said.
Dr Rugunda has in recent weeks held meetings with various teams that were donating to the National COVID-19 task force as well as teams that were distributing food in some areas of Kampala. He was also among the key government officials that were part of the presidential briefings on Coronavirus Disease.
Dr Atwine, however, refuted claims that some ministers might have tested positive for the disease, “I have not heard of anything of the sort. Have you?” Atwine asked.
Health workers at risk
Seven frontline health workers tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) early this week. The infected workers include three nurses, two doctors and two senior level staff.
Two of the seven workers are from Lira Regional Referral Hospital. The duo, a lead nurse and medical officer from Lira Hospital have been admitted at Entebbe Regional Referral Hospital while the rest are at Mulago Specialised Hospital.
Entebbe Hospital Director, Dr Moses Muwanga says that the Lira Hospital staff are stable and under close monitoring. The hospital currently has 45 patients most of whom are long distance truck drivers.
The ministry said that experts in Infection, Prevention and Control (IPC), Case management and Psychosocial management are investigating what could have happened. However, Dr Stephen Ayella, the Deputy President of Uganda Medical Association hinted on inexperience and staffing shortfalls as possible leads at Lira Hospital.
“The team of 14 health workers has never handled an infectious disease like Ebola or COVID-19 and they were also overwhelmed after receiving 21 patients in five days,” says Ayella.
When Fauci self isolated
Just last month in Washington, top infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci was among three members of the White House’s coronavirus task force self-isolated after potential exposure to the pathogen.
This after Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary tested positive heightened fears about senior administration officials catching the virus.
Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, also self-isolated.
Fauci, the head of infectious diseases at the National Institutes of Health, remained at home teleworking.
He is also underwent daily coronavirus tests that were negative for the disease.