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Friday,July 03,2020 23:49 PM

Embrace institutional quarantine

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Added 30th June 2020 04:19 PM

On a good note, the first cohort of 41 returnees from Khartoum, Sudan and Netherlands have already complied with the 14 days of institutional quarantine at accredited public and private quarantine centres.

Embrace institutional quarantine

Emmanuel Ainebyoona

On a good note, the first cohort of 41 returnees from Khartoum, Sudan and Netherlands have already complied with the 14 days of institutional quarantine at accredited public and private quarantine centres.

By Emmanuel Ainebyoona

We thank God for bringing back home our countrymen and women safely following many months of lockdown abroad. It is a great sigh of relief that they are back home where they belong.

The closure of Entebbe Airport, a major entry point for most Ugandans abroad and all other border points on March 21 following a set of presidential directives, left many Ugandans locked out of their country.

Ugandans who are returning home are finding us more ready and prepared to receive them unlike the case of those who arrived mid-March when mandatory institutional quarantine was put in place when the country was still taking responsive measures to keep the virus out of our borders.

This measure came as a discomfort to the over 1,500 returnees then, but it greatly saved Uganda from increased COVID-19 cases. The spread of COVID-19, which broke out in China late last year and spread to over 50 countries on different continents, including Africa led to a targeted preparedness process which saw surveillance teams focus on travellers.

In Uganda, highly suspect travellers with flu-like symptoms were isolated at Entebbe Grade B Hospital and tested for COVID-19 at the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) while those without symptoms were required to undergo 14 days of self-quarantine in their homes and our surveillance offi cers would follow them up on a daily basis.

As the situation evolved, the health ministry introduced a mandatory institutional quarantine for all returning travellers. This was after returnees violated and abused the option of self-quarantine. As you may recall, Uganda became the fourth East African country after Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania to register her first COVID-19 case, a 36-year-old male on March 21.

All first cases detected in East Africa were imported from Asia, Europe and North America. The confirmed case was returning from United Arab Emirates, but was detected by our team of health workers at the airport.

Indeed, among other preventive measures like hand hygiene, physical distancing and proper mask use, mandatory institutional quarantine has become instrumental in curbing the spread of the infection in Uganda.

The mandatory institutional quarantine has enabled our systems detect over 40 COVID-19 cases. Quarantine as a strategy, according to World Health Organisation (WHO), disrupts COVID-19 transmission through the separation of persons who might have been exposed to the virus from the rest of the population, with the objective of monitoring them and ensuring early detection of cases.

In its nature, quarantine involves the restriction of movement or separation from the rest of the population of healthy persons who might have been exposed to the virus.

As a result, all the 2,400 returnees who were recently cleared by Cabinet will be subjected to mandatory institutional quarantine as a precautionary measure to protect the over 40 million Ugandans that have sacrificed their livelihoods and social life for about six weeks of a total lock down and now slightly over two weeks of a partial lockdown.

On a good note, the first cohort of 41 returnees from Khartoum, Sudan and Netherlands have already complied with the 14 days of institutional quarantine at accredited public and private quarantine centres.

A fortnight of separation from friends, relatives and loved ones is not a pleasant thing, but we should remember that the minute enemy at hand, COVID-19, has not yet been defeated. Now that we are closer to a grand reunion to our families, let us religiously observe the standard operating procedures of quarantine until when we obtain our negative test result and a completion of quarantine certifi cate.

Remember, a sample will be obtained on the 14th day of quarantine and results will be returned after 48 hours of the testing process. A comparative analysis of the progression of COVID-19 pandemic in East Africa indicates that Uganda has kept a lower curve compared to its neighbours.

With strong presidential directives and appropriate guidelines in place, Uganda will remain the benchmark for handling public health emergencies just like we have been during the Ebola and Marburg outbreaks.

The author is the senior public relations officer at the ministry of health.

Reach him through emmanuel.ainebyoona@health.go.ug.

 

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