The Health Ministry Permanent Secretary, Dr Diana Atwine has been among those at the forefront of fighting the spread of coronavirus.
She has addressed press briefings, given interviews in which she has busted myths and revealed facts about COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
BELOW IS A COMPILATION
- COVID-19 is a new disease, it has never been faced before anywhere, it is new everywhere so even the diagnostics are just being developed…
- In other countries, it takes 2 to 3 days to get your results back after testing for Covid-19. (Even POTUS President Donald Trump’s results took two days to be out! In Uganda it takes one day. You get the results the same day you are tested! Within 24 hours!
- Uganda has capacity to check for Covid-19! Over 200 High Tech equipment to do with checking for any virus is available!
- ICU beds in all regional referral hospitals to be expanded, to be stand by for treatment of any covid-19 cases!
- “Black don’t crack” theory that suggests that covid-19 does not attack blacks is an absolute lie! Everyone no matter your race, gender, age, location, beliefs, is vulnerable to covid-19!
- We should support the President’s caution that this period should inspire all of us to embark on building a stronger health system, that is robust, resilient, self reliant and CUTS OUT WASTAGE! I personally have done away with stuff that does not add much to the health sector for example exorbitant luxurious seminars and a lot of wastages have been cut! We should not just minimize but cut more wastage!
- The quarantine issue where people were told to pay 100 dollars a night was miscommunicated to the public! Because of the “emergency fire fighting mode that the country had landed in”, the Minister of Tourism was tasked to quickly find a hotel near the airport for emergency quarantine of the suspected covid-19 victims. We could not take them far away from Entebbe where the first testing centre was and also to minimize on the risks of spread along the way, we had to find a hotel near the airport. The other hotels refused to have their facilities used for quarantine especially for people suspected to have such a deadly disease! The only hotel that accepted stated its price as 100 dollars per night. We as the Ministry of Health bargained with the Hotel and it reduced the price to 50 dollars per night! The people quarantined only paid for one night and the rest of the nights were and are being paid for by the Government of the Republic of Uganda!
- As the Ministry of Health, we are discouraging stigma against any body suspected to have covid-19 or anyone who has tested positive for covid-19! They did not commit any crime because they did not invite the disease to attack them and did not bring the disease to the earth!
We also decry stigma against people who have been abroad! They too did not commit a crime to travel for work, treatment, studies or leisure!
It was just unfortunate that they travelled around the time when travelers were more prone to this pandemic.
Mob justice against anyone suspected to have covid-19 or to have earlier traveled or against any foreigner is strictly prohibited! Inform your LC Chairman or nearby Police or call the toll free lines provided by Ministry of Health, in case of any suspicious person regarding covid-19! Do not harm them! Besides getting in contact with them could get them infecting you too incase they are infected with covid-19!
- However we condemn people that escaped from institutional/ legal quarantine! You are morally and legally very wrong! You have ill intention to spread a disease and you could face the wrath of the Law if proven guilty!
- The father of the eight months old baby that tested positive for covid-19 came back to Mulago hospital and re-united with his family! The mother of the baby tested negative but they are all under institutional quarantine for the required days!
- I caution the public that other diseases still exist so sleep in mosquito nets to avoid malaria! Use the known prevention methods for all these other known deadly diseases. Please visit hospitals, health centers and get treatment when you are not well. Not all symptoms are for covid-19! Some of you call out of stress and panic caused by information over load from social media or propaganda! We shall keep counseling you because for some of you that we have counseled, it turned out you were only in panic but not actually facing symptoms of covid-19, it was psychological! Please everyone avoid panic. Stay calm, follow all precautions and only call the toll free lines when there is reasonable suspicion of covid-19!
- We thank everyone that had partnered with the Ministry Of Health during this national and international emergency! Those that have contributed health requirements like the Alibaba group that contributed masks, testing kits, etc; Ugandan good samaritans that have contributed sanitizers, mattresses, soap, etc
We thank MTN Uganda and the media for the great partnership in sensitizing the public about covid-19!
We thank the MTN Uganda call centers that have given Ministry of Health Line 919 as a toll free line and given us support staff and space in their call centers to beef up our own toll free lines/ centers that were overwhelmed! We encourage artists to come up with more sensitizing information for the public regarding covid-19!
COMPILED BY NAMEERE JUSTINE