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Stock out of sample collection swabs halts COVID-19 testing in Gulu

Gulu Regional Referral Hospital

Gulu, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT |  Gulu Regional Referral Hospital has run out of the sample collection swabs for the novel Coronavirus testing. Apparently, the hospital has been sending people in need of COVID19 testing to St. Mary’s Hospital Lacor or International Medical Centre among others since Monday. 

The nasopharyngeal swab is used to pick samples from the nasal passage and is one of a range of swabbing techniques routinely used to test for COVID-19. Bishop Janani Loum, the in-charge of surveillance and case management at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital says the specimen swabs has never been enough given the large volume of tests being conducted on samples drawn from Gulu, Kitgum, Pader, Amuru, Nwoya, Lamwo, Agago and Omoro districts.

Dr. Paska Apio, a physician in charge of the COVID-19 Treatment Unit, says the situation is alarming and may lead to more community transmissions. Through tests, she says patients with severe illness may be evacuated for treatment, which will not be the case if those seeking care are not tested.

Maj. Santo Okot Lapolo, the Gulu Resident District Commissioner who doubles as the Task Force Chairperson disclosed that they have already communicated to Ministry of Health through the National Task Force for urgent delivery of the specimen collection swab kits.

According to Lapolo, for the meantime the District Health Department is making arrangements to borrow some sample collection swabs from the neighbouring Amuru District to salvage the situation.

As of October 15th, Gulu COVID-19 treatment center had cumulatively treated up to 1,119 patients since April, 326 of which were community infections. Up to 6,726 samples were tested, according to Yoweri Idiba, the Gulu District Health Officer. There are 49 active patients are still undergoing treatment at the facility.

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