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COVID -19 Survivors in Gulu Demand Discharge Certificates to Fight Segregation

The survivors who underwent home-based care management and later tested negative for the virus say they continue facing segregation, rejection and isolation from the communities.
Health Workers carying out rapid COVID -19 tests on students who returned from Kampala -Photo by Jesse Johnson James

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COVID -19 survivors in Gulu are demanding discharge certificates to enable them to counter segregation by the local communities.

The survivors who underwent home-based care management and later tested negative for the virus say they continue facing segregation, rejection and isolation from the communities.

Santos Comboni Okwera, a resident of Kanyagoga ‘A’ Sub –Ward in Bardege –Layibi Division had seven of his family members under home-based care management after they tested positive for COVID -19.

Okwera says unlike in the first wave of the pandemic, this time Gulu District COVID -19 Taskforce is no longer issuing discharge certificates to survivors, which is fuelling segregation and rejection among them by the local community.

According to Okwera, his family members’ final test results were sent via mobile phone on 30th June before being told they have fully recovered. However, members of the community still deny them the chance to buy food from the nearby markets and shops.

Okwera adds that when they go to fetch water, they are chased away from the borehole. He appealed to the District COVID -19 Taskforce to start issuing discharge certificates for survivors who underwent home-based care management to end the segregation and rejection.

Alex Okoya, another COVID -19 survivor who underwent treatment at home for 24 days says all his test results were given to him verbally by the health workers and when he recovered, he was told verbally on phone without any discharge certificate which used to be issued to those who recovered during the first wave of the pandemic.

Okoya says is facing rejection from the community since some people think he has not yet recovered from the virus. He adds that many people don’t want to associate with him even when he has recovered.

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William Onyai, the Gulu District Health Educator says the district has currently run out of discharge certificates. He however says that they will soon begin issuing it out to the survivors. He however warned against the stigmatization of the COVID -19 survivors.

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The latest report from Gulu District Health Office indicates that a total of 419 COVID -19 patients are undergoing home-based care management while over 200 have recovered upon completing the 14 days of treatment.