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Mentally sick patients sneak into Arua Covid-19 treatment centre

Arua, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Two mentally sick people on Thursday gained access to the Covid-19 treatment centre at Arua Regional Referral Hospital sparking fear among health workers.

In March, the management of Arua hospital resolved to relocate more than 20 mentally ill patients from the mental clinic to the Ear Nose and Throat unit. The mental unit was then gazetted as the COVID-19 treatment centre.

On Thursday one of the mentally sick patients entered the treatment centre and interacted with the patients. According to sources, at the time the patient entered the treatment centre, the security guard had gone to take lunch. They are 14 COVID-19 positive patients at the centre.

She was forcefully taken out of the centre by health workers and immediately quarantined in a separate room at the ENT unit. There are about 80 meters from the ENT unit to the COVID-19 treatment centre.

The second patient was intercepted by security guards while attempting to enter the treatment centre.

Dr Philbert Nyeko, the Arua hospital director says that it was hoped that the mental unit would be occupied temporarily and the mentally sick returned to the unit but it has now taken more than three months.

Nahori Oya the Resident District Commissioner Arua and chairman district COVID-19 taskforce says that mentally sick patients have occasionally been seen roaming within the hospital trying to get back to their unit. He says that the ENT unit is not fenced which makes it easy for the patients to sneak into other units of the hospital.

He says that they will be forced to refer the patients to Butabika National Referral Hospital until all the COVID-19 patients are discharged.

There are currently 24 mental patients at Arua referral hospital admitted at the ENT department.

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