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Experts frown at Ugandan companies testing staff for COVID-19 as offices reopen

Kampala, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT | As offices were reopening on Monday after the end of year festivities, the Insurance Training College (ITC), the training arm of Uganda’s Insurance sector opted for testing all its staff for SARS – COV -2, the virus that causes COVID-19 which has had over 30,000 Ugandans infected.

According to Agnes Eriosi Nantaba, institution’s head of Public Relations no staff will be allowed in the office until they present a mandatory negative COVID-19 certificate. She says they communicated this precautionary measure to their staff before they closed for Christmas. The institution registered a positive case in November and she says after the festivities where their staff traveled to different unknown places, they don’t want to endanger the over 2000 clients that they interact with.

While Nantaba recommends that this can be done by other companies as a precautionary measure, and indeed some other institutions including  IMC and Dream TVs have subjected their staff to testing, Dr. Ataro Stephen Ayella, an epidemiologist, says this is just a temporary solution. He says work places should rather put emphasis on individual respect for standard operating procedures like keeping proper  hand and respiratory hygiene.

The doctor says at this forth stage of COVID-19 infection that Uganda is experiencing, who gets infected or not and prevention depends on individual initiative and respecting prevention measures like wearing a face mask at all time while at office and keeping a physical distance.

It should be noted that as work places closed for festivities in December, the Ministry of Health cautioned the public against traveling to the villages and the Uganda Medical Association recommended a lock down predicting that movements would hike transmission.

As of today, the Ministry of Health had not yet gauged what effect the festivities have had on infection rates.

Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the Public Relations Officer told URN this morning that their epidemiology  teams are putting together a report that will be released soon but adds that they are encouraging workplaces that had gone complacent to put back in place hand washing facilities and make it mandatory for staff to wear masks at all time while at work. 

He says while companies can have their staff tested for the respiratory disease, it shouldn’t be made mandatory.   

As of Monday, the cumulative number of Ugandans testing positive were 35,922 cases whereby 210 are new cases.

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