Govt considers lockdown for Soroti Covid hotspot – Daily Monitor

A health worker supervises Covid-19 patients on oxygen support at Soroti Regional Referral Hospital at the weekend. PHOTO/GEORGE MURON
The Ministry of Health is considering a 21-day lockdown for Soroti District following the increase in the number of Covid-19 cases at Soroti Regional Referral Hospital.
Daily Monitor has learnt that the Ministry of Health was considering a lockdown at the end of this month, but health officials and key stakeholders in the district called for more time to evaluate the gaps in enforcement of the standard operating procedures (SOPS).
A source, who preferred anonymity to speak freely, said following wider consultations, the ministry has given Soroti officials more time to enforce and ensure that the people observe SOPs or risk having the district under lockdown for the entire month of October.
“We have been given the remaining days of September to ensure SOPs are observed and also contain Covid-19, whose cases are swelling and risking the entire population in the region,” the source said.
The source added that the ministry in its arguments stated that the reason the numbers in Soroti are swelling is as a result of poor or no observance of SOPS, adding that the office of the resident district commissioner, district health officers for both the district and law enforcement have been asked to wake up, and do all necessary enforcement within the law.
However, Dr Charles Okadhi, the Soroti District health officer, said there was no communication from the minister or the President to impose another lockdown for Soroti. He said from mid-August to September, they received an average of seven cases each week.
“If there is a planned lockdown for Soroti, the Minister for Health should have gone to the media centre to communicate to the nation, or the President should have,” Mr Okadhi said.
He added that Soroti Regional Referral Hospital had been getting referrals from as far as Arua, and other parts of the country, so an evaluation to know how many are from Soroti is underway.
The district health officer said the culture of SOPs had been grossly violated as boda bodas carry more than one person and people in rural areas are not observing SOPs at all.
Mr Patrick Okumu, the RDC Soroti District, said there was no discussion on a possible lockdown.
He, however, said the team enforcing the SOPs was small, which affected their work.
“I am on ground trying to enforce SOPs. What is clear, there is no such position from the ministry,” Mr Okumu said.
Dr Wilson Etolu, the head of the Covid Treatment Unit at Soroti Regional Referral Hospital, said they receive an average of 10 cases daily.
He confirmed that there are more than 65 patients at the Covid Treatment Unit, who are undergoing treatment, while more than 100 are under home-based care management. Mr Etolu said of the 65, at least 45 are under intensive care.
We were unable to get a comment from the Ministry of Health communication officer, Mr Emmanuel Ainebyona, as he did not answer our phone calls.
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