Lack of PPE Cripples COVID-19 Sample Collection in Kitgum

The District Health Officer Dr Alex Olwedo acknowledged the shortage of PPEs and notes that they were forced to borrow ten gowns from Lamwo district to resume covid-19 testing on suspected patients.
Kitgum district surveilance team preparing to collect samples recently in Kitgum Municipality. Photo By Julius Ocungi

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Kitgum District health department has run out of personal protective equipment- PPE to aid health workers in the collection of samples from suspected COVID-19 patients.

Simon Knox Okongo, the District Surveillance Focal Point Person revealed during a task force meeting on Friday that lack of PPE has created a backlog in the collection of COVID-19 samples for testing. Okongo says that several people with  COVID-19 symptoms are within the sub-counties and Municipality but the surveillance team can’t collect their samples because they lack PPE.

More than six people with symptoms of COVID-19 and primary contacts to patients who tested positive to COVID-19 are currently within the community in Mucwini Sub County and Pajimo Parish in Labingo Akwang Sub County.

The surveillance teams need gowns, N95 facemasks, gloves and sanitizers for disinfection before they can embark on the task.

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He notes that the situation is likely to spark off a community transmission from asymptomatic patients since the district has no holding facility for such patients. Okongo says due to lack of PPEs, they haven’t been routinely sending swab samples to the national laboratory for testing, a move that has drawn questions from Health Ministry officials.

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The District Health Officer Dr Alex Olwedo says that they were forced to borrow ten gowns from Lamwo district to resume COVID-19 testing on suspected patients. Dr Olwedo says the absence of the PPEs is proving a challenge for the health team to effectively and safely conduct sample collection despite having 200 sample collection and testing kits.

Dr Geoffrey Okello, the Kitgum General Hospital acting Medical Superintendent, also, the chairperson case management says there is a plan to update a treatment centre at the hospital for emergency cases.

The district task force in April this year set up a treatment centre with 20 bed capacity at Kitgum Hospital but the facility has largely been unused due to a Health Ministry guideline recommending all COVID-19 patients be a treatment from the Regional treatment centre in Gulu city.

Kitgum District has registered 256 cases of Covid-19 with 163 from inmates at Kitgum Central Prison.

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