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Its Too Early to Chest Thump About Reduction in COVID-19 Cases - Experts

covid- 19 testing

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Experts have warned that Uganda should not jubilate about the recent low numbers of people testing positive for COVID-19 saying that the country could soon see a resurgence of high infection rates.

According to Ministry of Health results released on Tuesday, eight people tested positive for COVID-19 from 788 samples tested on Monday. They also recorded three new deaths. The new cases brought the cumulative number of people testing positive to date to 40, 063. On Sunday, only 36 new cases were recorded and 40 cases had been recorded, the day before.

For the whole of last week, there was no single day that the cases exceeded 40, yet the same can’t be said of December and November when single-day records could go to the highs of 400 new cases.

Speaking to URN on Tuesday about the low cases, Dr Ayella Stephen Ataro, an epidemiologist said they shouldn’t make Ugandans loose guard and that they don’t necessarily mean we are defeating the virus. Ayella said the true picture of Uganda’s status can only be painted if mass testing is done.

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His view is shared by Public Health Policy Expert, Dr Freddie Ssengoba who says daily tests should no longer be an appropriate tool for measuring the pandemic status.

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With testing now being largely paid for, Ssengooba says a lot of people are falling sick and recovering without being traced. He says most of the tests carried out now are for cosmetic compliance purposes for those aiming to travel or are about to meet VIPs.  

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Dr Henry Kajumbula, a microbiologist involved in COVID-19 treatment at Mulago Hospital agrees that recently, even the admissions at the hospital that was months ago overwhelmed with numbers have grossly gone down saying this came off as a surprise to them considering that the country has just concluded an election that was marred with wide disrespect of COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures of proper mask-wearing and keeping a physical distance.

It’s not just Mulago that has only a few cases, other hospitals out of Kampala for instance in Lira have reported a deep in COVID-19 admissions. But Ssengoba says that although this is being portrayed as though elections had no impact on the pandemic, a lot of people though not tested could have been infected through the door-to-door campaigns.

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Meanwhile, the number of reported cases of COVID-19 globally has declined for the fifth consecutive week, the head of the UN health agency said on Monday, underscoring that “simple public health measures work, even in the presence of variants”.

“Last week saw the lowest number of reported weekly cases since October”, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) told journalists at a regular press briefing in Geneva. 

Noting a nearly 50 per cent drop this year, Dr Tedros acknowledged that there is more reason for hope of bringing the pandemic under control. “the fire is not out, but we have reduced its size,” he said, adding that “how we respond to this trend” is what matters now.

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