By Dan Ayebare
Following the Ministry of health’s appeal to all Dubai returnees of the last 14 days (since announcement) to report to any COVID 19 testing centres for screening, hundreds of Ugandans did so voluntarily.
One of them was a 30-year-old male who returned on 18th March aboard Ethiopian airlines.
On arrival his temperature was checked, his travel details recorded and allowed to go home.
A couple of days later, after the appeal to return for screening, he decided to reach out to the Ministry of Health team who he claims never really helped him.
He then decided to jump on a bodaboda to Mulago hospital to have a test done on 24th March at 2pm.
On arrival, no tests were done as expected but his travel details recorded again and told to wait.
He found there his fellow returnees who were freely mingling in a space where he noticed a lady who was clearly unwell.
“There was one lady who was coughing for over an hour and there was no one attending to her. I was forced to shout at the officials who were writing our details to attend to her. She was given a mask and taken away,” he says.
In the evening, after four hours of waiting, he says a Costa and Noah vehicle were parked in the compound, and onto them they were loaded beyond capacity.
“They took the first trip and I was on the second trip. The Noah had nine people excluding the driver and the Costa was full. When I reached at Douglas Villa hostel, in Kikoni Makerere, they brought the second trip and at around midnight, another trip was brought,” one of our anonymous sources says.
Since then, more people are brought in daily and it is believed the hostel is now full to the brim.
The biggest worry however is that no measure was put in place to ensure isolation. The quarantined people are mingling freely in hallways, corridors and while ‘fighting’ for the little food that is provided.
“While the last complaint should be poor meals, the contact that happens when picking food is worrying. People push and shout at each other and you can’t be sure about who is infected or not. Even when you send for bites outside, it is the same guy that collects money from all of us and delivers on each door. You can’t imagine how many people get in contact with him. This is more dangerous than staying home,” said a 32-year-old male who arrived aboard Ethiopian airlines on March 18.
Hygiene is yet another worry that is leaving occupants scared for their lives.
“Since I came here, they cleaned for the first time on Saturday. We are not sure they will even come back. The toilets were very dirty. The rooms are dirty and we have to use the beddings we find there. Beddings that were left by students, and never changed “said a 26-year-old female who returned from Dubai on 20th March.
Of the hundreds of the quarantined people at Douglas Villa, none has been tested while at the facility.
Save for a few who had their tests taken at Mulago National referral hospital, only occupants who showed acute symptoms are taken away.
“Every day, at least one person who has shown the symptoms of Coronavirus is taken away. At least a day can’t elapse. These are the people we socialise with all day. Why don’t they make a test on all of us as we wait for our fourteen days to end,” says a worried 29 year old that jetted in 20th March from Dubai.
The latest we can gather is that, one or two of the 33 confirmed cases of COVID 19 cases was formerly quarantined at Douglas Villa.
“One of the medical attendants confirmed to me yesterday that at least one of the former members here has been tested positive. You can imagine how I feel’”
Our source further says that no serious management and follow up is being taken as they rarely get medical attention.
“They have only taken my temperature measurements twice, for the four days I have been here. No further check-up has been done,” he said.
Another source inside the establishment, a 27-year-old male who has not travelled abroad of late but had felt a heavy chest, had his samples taken voluntarily at Mulago hospital but it has been six days since and he hasn’t received any results.
The ministry of Health spokesperson Emmanuel Ainebyoona said the ministry is planning to move the quarantined individuals to much more organised institutions in Entebbe as soon as possible. He declined to expound much about this.
At the Kikoni based Makerere University dominated students’ hostel, beddings and utensils which were left by the students have been taken over by the new occupants.
This according to a student leader at the hostel who preferred anonymity, was done without consulting the leadership body or any individual resident student.
“After the presidential directive last Wednesday, we were asked to leave the hostel as soon as possible. Some remained up to Saturday and witnessed the first batch coming at night. When contacted, we reached out to the hostel higher leadership and we were not given assurance about safety of our property,” said one hostel students’ leader.
Our source who is one of the quarantined individuals confirmed that they were indeed using the student’s property.
Angella Nagayi, the hostel in-charge, rubbished the claims and maintained that the hostel is being used by student returnees from Dubai and South Africa who came with their own property. She says no property that belongs to resident students is being used.
Uganda has confirmed 33 cases of Covid-19. No death has been confirmed yet.
The president last week banned public transport as a way of curbing the spread of the disease.