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Ministry of Health to collect blood samples, GPS location of COVID-19 suspects

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Health Ministry has started collecting blood samples from all COVID-19 suspects in addition to the nasal and throat swabs for testing.

Dr Julius Amumpe, an Epidemiologist and Head Quality Assurance Department in the Health Ministry, says that they have asked local field teams to collect blood samples from all suspected cases regardless of their viral status including the ones that were discharged from quarantine centres.

He disclosed this while addressing the Greater Masaka Regional COVID-19 Taskforce at Masaka Regional Referral Hospital. Dr Amumpe explains that being a naval pandemic, the new testing method will help scientists make new discoveries about the virus towards finding appropriate responses to the case-patients.

He says the teams will rely on the new mode of testing to easily identify asymptomatic cases who are potential transmitters of the virus yet they don’t necessarily present with any COVID-19 signs.

According to Dr Amumpe, the Polymerase Chain Reaction-PCR testing method that basically analyses Nasal and Throat swabs cannot effectively detect cases without signs yet they are equally dangerous.

The new instructions also require health teams to move backwards and pick samples from people who returned in the country as early as February this year.

Dr Amumpe  says that the Ministry is also interested in capturing the Global Positioning Systems-GPS location coordinates of residence of all suspected cases for purposes of tracing them easily in case of any emerging eventualities.

Dr Reagan Ronald Mutebi, one of the coordinators of the Emergency Response Team at the Ministry of Health explains that they have empowered the District Task forces with enabling software on their cellphones to be able to capture the GPS locations as required.

Dr Edward Muwanga, the Kyotera District Health Officer, says similar testing should be conducted on all cross-border truck drivers whom he says still present great risk to the community as they cross the borders of different countries.

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