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Family of second COVID-19 victim blocks contact tracing by MOH

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Kampala, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT |  The family of the-80-year-old female who reportedly succumbed to COVID-19 on Friday 25 has denied the health ministry access to carry out contact tracing.

The 80-year-old was admitted to Platinum hospital for seven days before her condition deteriorated. Then she was sent to Mengo hospital where she breathed her last on July 25, 2020.

In circumstances like this, the health ministry would carry out contact tracing starting with family members who had contact with the deceased. These might be people who have been washing clothes for the confirmed case, preparing meals for them, sharing a house or even a car with them. The contacts would then tell them anyone else who could have had contact with them or the deceased.

However, according to the Ministry of Health officials, they have not been able to carry out contact tracing or even test family members of the deceased for COVID-19.  Bernard Lubwama, an epidemiologist and also the head of COVID-19 surveillance at the health ministry says that they have failed to access close family members of the deceased.

“It’s a difficult one. When went to their house they closed the gate and told us to go away and get information from the health facilities. This is deadly because the most likely positive cases are those people that had contact with an identified case,” he said.

The health ministry as of now does not know how many people might have come into contact with deceased at home, in the hospital or during the burial. “This is dangerous because if any of them is sick, we shall not be able to know or even offer treatment early or even stop the spread of the disease. We are trying to convince them to allow us to test them,” Lubwama adds.

According to the World Health Organisation, one person can infect as many as 1,000 people with a highly infectious disease like COVID-19.

According to the Public Health Act, people who refuse to adhere to set measures such as quarantine, testing and contact tracing during an infectious epidemic disease such as COVID-19. Persons who contravene the law are liable to serving a 12 months prison sentence or paying a monetary fine of shilling 2,000.

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