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Health ministry stops tracing COVID-19 patient contacts

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Only 10 percent of the contacts of people who test positive for COVID-19 are currently being picked according to the Ministry of Health and these include only those who develop signs and symptoms consistent with the virus.

While the Ministry used to trace and isolate whoever came into contact with a confirmed positive or suspected case early into the pandemic, a model they borrowed from Ebola surveillance, Dr Charles Olaro, the Director Clinical Services says that their contact tracing system got skewed when community infections became rampant.

He said that with an increase in community infections, it became costly since the requirement was to have contacts quarantined for the 14 incubation days as health workers monitored them for any symptoms. He says they now resolved to only test those contacts who have developed COVID-19 like symptoms.

With the pandemic moving into phase 4 where interventions are majorly geared towards mitigation, he said they have instead shifted attention to confirmed patients in hospitals and how quickly those that are being monitored from home can be referred to hospital once they progress from asymptomatic or mild to moderate and severe requiring close monitoring by health workers.

Commenting on the same, Health Minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng said that other than going for unconfirmed cases, they are currently pre-occupied by how they strengthen emergency care services to be able to guarantee that those that need treatment receive it in a timely manner.

One of things high on the list of their needs, she said, are ambulances and that they have already received with support from a number of entities with the latest donation of five brand new ambulances coming from global authentication services company SICPA on Thursday.

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