Uganda has Saturday discharged three out of the 53 people who tested positive for COVID-19 after they achieved full recovery from the disease.
The three cases had been admitted at Entebbe referral hospital.
No person has so far died from the disease in Uganda. Majority of the positive cases were imported by people who have recently traveled to countries with high risks.
Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the Minister of Health said the 3 discharged patients were part of the 30 COVID-19 patients admitted at Entebbe hospital. The 3 had spent 21 days at the facility.
“COVID-19 patients stay a long time. The 3 patients we are discharging spent 21 days. It takes time for viral load to go down. That’s why we are working hard to see we don’t have an epidemic blowing out of proportion,” the Minister said.
She noted that they 3 have asked that their identities be kept private. As a result, they were not present at the official ceremony. Dr Aceng said it is important that their rights are respected.
According to the Minister, some 15 other patients have already recovered from the coronavirus disease and are set to be discharged on Monday. This is because the Ministry is yet to prepare their communities, she said.
Uganda’s 53 cases are all stable and none has deteriorated to critical condition that requires intensive care or life support equipment.
All health care workers that have been interfacing with patients are negative.
Prime Minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda who heads the National Task Force on COVID-19 described the discharge of the 3 patients as “an extremely pleasant function amidst a difficult war”.
He hailed the health workers for the care extended to the patients through the 21 days up to the point of being discharge. He also thanked the Director of Entebbe Referral Hospital for creating a good environment for the treatment and recovery.
“It’s a team (health care workers) the county is very proud of,” he said, further commending the collaboration between the Ministry of Health, the health facilities at the frontline and the strategic leadership of the President.
He appealed to communities against stigmatizing the recovered patients.
“Discharge of these patients needs to be handled carefully. They need their privacy. I appeal to the communities to warmly welcome these friends who have been discharged and reintegrate them in their communities,” PM Rugunda stressed.
‘You have been assured that they have been properly treated and given requisite tests after treatment and declared healed. So you have no reason not to reintegrate them to allow them resume their normal life”.
He appealed to RDCs, Mayors, and local council leaders to ensure the reintegration process is understood by communities.
Process of discharge
According to the Director General of Health Services in the Ministry of Health, Dr Henry Mwebesa, the process of discharging a person who had initially tested positive begins with admission to the hospital.
The patient is admitted with a positive result and kept for 24 days. He or she then take 2 samples 24 hours apart. Uganda’s 3 cases each had negative tests at 24 hours intervals.
“They are going home with negative tests.” Dr Mwebesa said.
On confirming that the tests are negative, the healthcare workers prepare them to return to the community.
Prior to the actual discharge, health authorities proceed to the communities (where the recovered patients reside) to prepare the local residents to receive the patients “so that there is no stigma and they are not harassed”.
“We then take them (recovered patients) through psychosocial counseling and advise them on what to do. All the clothes they came with stay here and we give them new clothes”.
They are discharged with Certificates, result slips and information on Dos and Donts.
Health teams then make a 14-day follow up to monitor them and continue offering psychosocial support and risk communication.