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Gulu COVID-19 treatment unit runs out of space, drugs

Gulu Regional Referral Hospital

Gulu, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT | The surveillance and case management personnel for the novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) in Gulu is stuck with over 30 patients in the community after the treatment centre ran out of space for new admissions.

The government expanded the Tuberculosis ward at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital to a 74 bed-capacity COVID-19 treatment unit. But currently, the facility is treating an excess of 123 patients. The treatment facility admits at least five patients every day who are mainly evacuated from the districts of Pader, Gulu, Amuru, Omoro, Lamwo, Kitgum, Nwoya and Agago.

Last week, the COVID-19 Task Force conducted mass testing of Gulu District Local Government staff after Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, the District Chairman tested positive for the virus. Some of the 30 positive cases emerged from the group.

But Michael Chankara, a public health specialist under the surveillance and case management unit says that these confirmed cases have not yet been evacuated to the treatment unit or even linked to care, due to lack of space. 

Speaking to URN on Monday, Mapenduzi, who is a member of the COVID-19 task force in Gulu highlighted challenges at the treatment centre saying the medical team does not have enough supplies to protect themselves from the disease while taking care of patients in the treatment facility. 

“That means, they can’t even check on the people being treated and the medical team needs urgent attention,” Mapenduzi said. 

Dr Paska Apiyo, a Physician who is in charge of the COVID-19 treatment unit confirmed the development and added that the facility has also recorded stock out of Zinc, azithromycin and Vitamin C drugs, which are used to treat COVID-19 patients at the facility. 

The Management of Gulu Regional Referral Hospital, backed by the District Task Force headed by Maj. Santo Okot Lapolo, the Resident District Commissioner recommended the expansion of former Gulu School of Clinical Officers to 150-bed capacity to accommodate the rising cases.

Last week, 57 patients who recovered from the COVID-19 were discharged bringing a cumulative number of discharges to 275 from more than 500 people who have been admitted for treatment since May.

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