Uganda: COVID-19 - Masaka Hospital Boss Wants Asymptomatic Patients Treated From Home

Masaka Regional Referral Hospital Director, Dr Nathan Onyachi has advised government to consider treating some Covid-19 patients from home in a bid to decongest the treatment centres at various regional hospitals.

Dr Onyachi suggest that patients who do not present the known signs of the disease should be sent back home and also give room to others to be treated.

The most common symptoms of Covid-19 are fever, cough, sore throat and shortness of breath. However, some patients categorised as asymptomatic do not present any of these signs or symptoms.

According to Dr Onyachi some of the Covid-19 patients they have examined can be attended to from their homes so as to create space for other patients suffering from equally life-threatening illnesses like diabetes, hypertension, asthma and heart-related diseases.

While at home, the director said health workers will keep monitoring the patients on phone and routine checks in case of any emergency.

"The patients we have especially youth below 35 years are spending most of the time in the ward playing music and dancing which has shot up our utility bills, such people can be monitored from their homes and we remain with patients who show serious signs, those in advanced in age and those on drugs with other serious ailments," he said.

Dr Onyachi said he is yet to submit his proposal to government and hopes it will be considered.

"We are still lucky that no one has died of Covid-19 yet, but many of our people with equally deadly diseases could be there suffering because much of the attention is put on coronavirus," he said.

Available data from the Ministry of Health shows that 57.4 percent of the treated Covid-19 patients in the country don't present any of the known symptoms.

The data further shows that of those that presented symptoms, 43 percent had cough while 37 percent presented with fever and chest pain.

Dr Onyachi indicated that almost all regional hospitals have run out of beds for Covid-19 patients.

"In our case, we had to discharge all mental patients and turned their ward into a Covid-19 treatment centre, but it's now full and we are considering sending home Tuberculosis (TB) patients in order to admit more Covid-19 patients," the hospital director said.

However, when contacted, Dr Diana Atwiine, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, said it will be risky to allow confirmed cases to return to the community as they would infect others.

"Dr Onyachi 's suggestion of decongesting the facilities is good, but the government can't take positive cases to their homes given the behaviors of Ugandans, if they[Ugandans] have adamantly refused to wear masks, how will they isolate themselves at home?" she said.

Dr Atwine said the ministry is in advanced stages of creating special centres around the country to handle asymptomatic cases in bid to decongest the facilities.

"The ministry is considering creating a special facility for the people without signs and concentrate on those with serious signs and we shall officially announce our plan soon," she said.

Dr Onyachi said although the Covid-19 treatment centre was designated to manage cases from Mutukula border point at the Uganda-Tanzania entry point, they are also receiving cases from as far as Isingiro and Rakai districts.

The rate of Covid-19 infection has been increasing rapidly in the past two months. The current tally stands at 457 confirmed cases including seven frontline health workers who contracted the virus and are now being treated.

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