There was anxiety in Mbale yesterday after three people who exhibited signs associated with coronavirus were isolated at Mbale Municipal health centre II for further monitoring, pending confirmatory tests by Uganda Virus Research Institute.
The suspects are males from Kapchorwa, Mbale taxi park and Namatala ward respectively.
News of the suspected cases sent the public into panic as some hurried to stock supplies for their families in fear of a possible shut down.
This also triggered a sudden increase in prices of sugar, salt and foot stuffs.
However, Mbale Referral hospital director Emanuel Tugeineyo called for calm saying that it is too early to conclude on the fate of the suspected patients.
Tugeineyo cautioned the public against stigmatizing those suspected to have coronavirus adding that this will cause many to go into hiding, which could escalate the spread.
His call follows a series of public attacks on people suspected to be suffering from the virus.
“Being a suspect does not mean that you are sick. By stigmatizing them, they will lead the suspects into hiding and when they hide they will keep spreading the disease amongst them (the public) in case they are sick. Instead they should be encouraging these suspects to come forward even on their own,” he said.
The hospital director urged the public to concentrate on keeping themselves safe by following the ministry of Health and WHO guidelines of hand washing, sanitizing, social distancing among others.
The district health team is undergoing capacity building including establishment of an isolation center, training of frontline medical staff in preparation for the pandemic.
Mbale is surrounded by porous borders. This, in addition to being a regional business hub, makes it a red spot for the pandemic.