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Long Read: Uganda Hospitals Filling Up As COVID-19 Infections Surge



Earlier this week, a 36-year-old man employed in Adjumani, Northern Uganda, traveled to Masaka for burial.

Musa (not real name) has a history of fevers and arthralgia (pain in joints). After the burial, Musa was admitted in hospital with malaria and typhoid.

He was given artesunate and ceftriaxone (medication used to treat malaria) without improvement.

Musa was then presented to IMC Entebbe with dry cough, chest pain and dyspnea. His oxygen level, or saturation (SpO2) was 82% and had coarse crackles bilaterally.

Musa did not have fever and was not known to have a history of chronic respiratory disease or other chronic diseases.

The patient was isolated and put on oxygen. IMC Entebbe contacted Covid-19 response team at Entebbe Grade B Hospital which said it’s operating at full capacity hence unable to take in new patients.

IMC Entebbe contacted an official at Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI), who agreed to take Musa’s sample and run it through express as long as the patient was transported.

The samples were taken but IMC Entebbe got stuck with Musa for hours before being advised by Entebbe Grade B Hospital to transfer the patient to IHK, Namuwongo.

IHK, which is affiliated to IMC, rejected Musa.

IMC then called City Ambulance which agreed to take Musa to inpatient hospitals, all of which reject him upon hearing that he had pneumonia and was oxygen dependent.

The hospitals (Nsambya, Rubaga, Mengo, Kisubi) said they could only take in Musa if he had a COVID-19 certificate showing he was negative.

City ambulance decided to transfer Musa to Kiruddu Hospital as Mulago could only receive patients with positive COVID-19 results not pending ones.

Kiruddu said their isolation for inpatients was full. They turned back the ambulance. IMC returned the patient to Entebbe Grade B where they pleaded for space from a one Dr Nsereko who heads the Covid-19 taskforce there.

Dr Nsereko finally agreed to give Musa a bed. City ambulance returned from Kampala and put the patient at Entebbe Grade B Hospital.

Musa, who appeared at IMC at 9:00am, gets space in Entebbe at 8:30pm, his oxygen level is 79%.

Second case

Another patient, Peter (not real name), reported at Novik hospital in Kampala at around 5:00pm with respiratory distress. He had all other signs of Covid-19 symptoms.

Having no isolation unit at the facility, doctors organized an immediate referral process to Mulago hospital.

At Mulago, the ambulance team was bounced to Kiruddu which rejected the patient.

COVID-19 virus has ravaged many parts of the world

The ambulance team consulted Uganda Healthcare Foundation (UHF) which advised them to take Peter to Naguru and confirmed that they had secured an isolation unit for the patient.

The Naguru team rejected the patient upon arrival of the team and his family.

Since it was approaching around 1:00 am, the family had lost hope and requested the team to drop them back to their home.

The team which had left Norvik hospital at 6:30 pm, returned after midnight.

This sheds light on challenges faced by hospitals as the country struggles to come to terms with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The protocols are going to have to become significantly more streamlined if they are going to manage a full blown outbreak,” said a doctor who preferred anonymity to speak freely.

Take COVID-19 seriously

However, this situation also is a reminder to the public to take the COVID-19 prevention guidelines very seriously.

On August 20, Director General of Health Services, Dr Henry Mwebesa instructed the Directors of private hospitals to establish holding units for the management of critically ill patients with suspected COVID 19.

The private hospitals were directed to isolate the suspected patients, obtain samples and notify relevant bodies; continue to provide clinical care while ensuring all the standard operating procedures for the treatment of COVID 19; and only when positive results return should a consideration for referral be made.

However, Uganda medical Association President Dr Richard Idro said the directives of the Ministry of Health were unlikely to bring out the desired results, especially in the urban centres.

He argued that most people in urban centres first go to private facilities when they fall sick.

“In Kampala for example, there are 1,600 health units of which only 35 are hospitals. Patients are likely to go to the nearest health centre rather than look for the 35 hospitals such as Nakesero,” said Dr Idro.

“The small health centres which form over 95% of all health units have no room to set up these isolation facilities or put a tent, some even have no parking while others have very few staff and even fewer at night,” he emphasised.

“The holding units should meet standards of infection control but with which money? Few have the resources to put in place the kind of infection control measures required to care for potential COVID 19 patients or the PPE. During the 2-4 days the critically ill patient is being treated in the proposed holding units while waiting for results, may be receiving oxygen, with costs of over one million per day, who will pay for these costs?” Idro wondered.

Way forward

A senior doctor advised that Uganda should pick a lesson from United Kingdom which in April built NHS Nightingale, the largest hospital facility to accommodate coronavirus patients needing intensive care treatment.

East London’s ExCeL exhibition centre, which normally plays host to lifestyle shows, expos and conferences, was converted into the temporary NHS Nightingale hospital, with space for 4,000 beds.

In nine days, the 87,328 square metres of double exhibition halls was fitted out with the framework for about 80 wards, each with 42 beds.

This, the doctor said, should be done at Namboole stadium.

Minister speaks out

Speaking in Lira on Thursday, Minister Ruth Aceng said Ugandans should not be worried as steps are being taken to accommodate the growing large numbers of COVID-19 patients.

“We don’t understand where the worry is coming from,” said Aceng.

Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng in Lango sub-region. this week

“We have Namboole stadium which is large enough to accommodate these numbers. If we have more challenges, we will put tents outside. Better to put people who have the virus in a tent than bundling them together with those you are suspecting to have the virus,” said the Minister, emphasising, “So we don’t have a challenge as yet.”

Officials at Namboole say the facility was being used as a quarantine centre for some of the returnees.

Namboole has been fit with 300 beds but the capacity will be enhanced to 1,000 in the next few weeks, according to informed officials.

“People better be serious because hospitals are getting full. Space is running out very fast. We may reach a moment where patients may have nowhere to go,” said a medical source.

Dr Aceng said the touted homecare of COVID-19 patients was being studied to assess its viability.

“Even asymptomatic people seep the virus. In our population, the setup of our households is not conducive for isolation because people share amenities. You find four people in single rooms. They share bathrooms, toilets and utensils. It would have been easier to isolate people at home. In developed countries, you find each room is self-contained, making it easy to isolate people,” said Aceng.

“But here, the sick person, will be tempted to come out. We saw this between March and April at the onset of the pandemic. We tried self-isolation and many of the people would leave their homes to go to the centre of the city,” said the Minister.

“Even home in isolation, health personnel should follow you up after check on you every two days. But we have challenges of the human resource. Self-isolation of COVID-19 may end up spreading the virus even more,” said Aceng.

“That is why we continue to appeal to the population to embrace prevention guidelines and protect themselves from Coronavirus.”

Uganda, which initially performed well, has lately seen a sharp rise in the number of cases of Covid-19 as well as related deaths which now stand at 28.

President Museveni declared this Saturday, August 29 as a day for national prayers during which the country will once again seek divine invention to get through the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • To prevent the spread of COVID-19:
  • Clean your hands often. Use soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Maintain a safe distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Wear a mask when physical distancing is not possible.
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with your bent elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Stay home if you feel unwell.
  • If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention.

Source –


Year of the Overcomer-Prophet Elvis Mbonye



The eagerly awaited first fellowship of controversial Prophet Elvis Mbonye left viewers shocked as he declined to issue his now famous prophecies citing a refusal to settle for the new normal. In an on online service watched by thousands, the Prophet said him prophesying would “ be a concession to gathering online, rather than physically” further stating that it is not the will of God that church should meet online!

The Covid-19 SOPs given by the government and Ministry of Health have heavily impacted gatherings and as a result, ministries with large congregations have resorted to online services. The prophet however insists that this is a ploy to diminish the influence of the Kingdom of God.

He however proceeded to give the Prophetic Word of the year , saying “This is the year of the Overcomers” amidst cheers from those present. He also stated that this would not be a “gloomy” year, probably meaning that this would be a good year. Given that many of his prophecies have actually come to pass, should we pay more attention to him? We eagerly await the prophecies this year.

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Kabuleta blasts Media over “COFIT” reporting in new rant.



Presidential hopeful Joseph Kiiza Kabuleta has expressed dissatisfaction with the media over what he says was”alarmist reporting” over the Covid-19 pandemic which he calls “COFIT” a term we believe is a wordplay between covid and profit, a view held by many that claims that the disease was exaggerated to maximize funding and corruption. Kabuleta has come to be known for his straight shooting style and admirable command of facts and policy, even being touted as the “smartest candidate” in the is the full statement:


By Joseph Kabuleta

“Don’t look at where you fell, but where you slipped”

We know where the media fell. They fell when they were caught in the crossfire between opposition politicians and trigger-happy security hitmen; when they were unfairly targeted as they went about their noble duty of covering this explosive elective season. Sadly, some journalists are nursing wounds; others weren’t so lucky.
But it’s important for us to understand where they slipped.

If someone is sitting by the roadside sipping on his brew and he sees a gang of people sprinting past him, as if for their lives, it’s understandable if he impulsively joins without asking questions. But if after nine months he is still sprinting, and has still not asked any questions, then there’s something terribly wrong with him.

When we first went into lockdown in March, it was probably the best course of action because we didn’t know the full extent of the Cofit threat. But in the first 90 days, it was clear to all and sundry that it was never going to rank among Uganda’s top health challenges. And that’s not my opinion.

The Daily Monitor on July 15th quoted Dr Baterana Byarugaba, the Mulago Hospital Executive Director, describing the Cofit strain in the country as a mild form of flu which does not require hospital admission since it can be treated at home or in lower health facilities.
“l told Ugandans right from the beginning that the type of coronavirus we expect in Uganda is the mild one. It can be treated at health centre II, III, IV or the district hospital,” the top Medic said.

I read the story with glorious delight supposing that finally common sense, (or should I say science sense) would inform our decisions as a nation. But it’s difficult to know where science stops and politics starts. It’s become clear over the months that Cofit is not just a virus that causes respiratory problems, it’s a lot more than that; it’s a weapon in the hands of politicians that gives them power beyond their wildest dreams. In America, for instance, Democrat Congressman Jim Clyburn said Cofit is a “tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our (leftist) vision” while actress and activist Jane Fonda said that Cofit was “God’s gift to the left.”

Our media could have taken the side of poor Ugandans by showing the immense suffering and death from preventable sicknesses that resulted from the harsh Cofit measures; they could have highlighted the plight of businesses permanently closed and workers rendered redundant and sent back to villages. They could have wondered why truck drivers were testing negative in Kenya and positive in Uganda, or wondered why Cofit deaths only started after Prophet Museveni showed us a macabre lineup of coffins in his address, or why every celebrity who dies since then is ruled as Cofit (no autopsy required)

They could have told us that according to Worldometer, Cofit has a 0.28% mortality rate (or a 99.72 survival rate) and that it doesn’t rank anywhere in the Top 10 of Uganda’s health challenges; they could have told us that a child dies of malaria every two minutes (and Uganda accounts for 3% of the world’s malaria fatalities), which means that more Ugandans die from mosquitoes in ten days than Cofit has (allegedly) killed in the nine months it’s been on our lips.

Ugandans (especially of my age) have lived through real pandemics. As a young man growing up in the early 90s, nobody had to remind me that AIDS was real. Goodness me, I knew it was! And I didn’t need police to force me to wear protection, I knew the consequences. The fact that we are constantly being reminded that ‘Cofit is real’ tells a story of its own.

The media could have asked why Uganda, with one of the lowest Cofit cases or deaths, still holds on to a 9:00pm curfew when Kenya moved to 11:00pm in September, as did South Africa and several countries. The media could have told us that Malawi, Burundi, Tanzania and, recently, Ghana all held successful elections with full blown campaigns in 2020, and we aren’t hearing people dropping dead from Cofit in any of those countries. May be they should have tried to find out if people are dropping dead in Tanzania which altogether ignored all Cofit measures and went on to acquire middle-income status while Ugandans were still in lockdown.

They could have told us about the asymptomatic Cofit patients who were filmed dancing the night away in hospital wards, or of people suffering from other diseases who dare not go to hospital because they fear to be given a fake Cofit label and held for two weeks against their will.

The media could have told us that Cofit deaths across the world have been grossly inflated. Minnesota lawmakers say Cofit deaths could have been inflated by 40% after examining death certificates (according to The Washington Examiner) while Fox News reported that in Colorado 45% of Cofit corpses “were also found to have bullet wounds”.

They could have told us that 22 European countries, all of which had tens of thousands of Cofit deaths, opened their schools in the fall, and there has not been any reported spikes in cases as a result. They could have told us that more people have been killed by security men enforcing Cofit measures than by the virus itself.

Well, they could have…but they didn’t. And that’s where they slipped.

Instead they chose to go down the path of alarmist reporting and in so doing became, inadvertently or otherwise, enablers of Uganda’s trillion-shilling Cofit enterprise. Like Squealer in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the media used flowery language to drum up fear by keeping people’s eyes transfixed on swelling numbers while the thieves carried their loot and stashed it away, and loan money was distributed among family members or used in regime prolongation.

The recent joint television news bulletin, and the adverts that followed, were the peak of hysterical reporting. “Zuukuka Tusaanawo” (wake up, we are perishing) screamed an advert featuring top media personalities. What a load of……(fill in appropriate word).

Remember, all the tyranny we have witnessed in this season has been done in the name of Cofit, and such sensationalist reporting justifies it; it gives dictators like Museveni the perfect pseudo-moralistic cover to unleash their most despotic fantasies while actually pretending that it’s for the good of the people. Unfortunately, the terror has now spread to the very media people whose hyperbole enabled it in the first place. There is such a thing as the law of cause and consequence, after all.

Instead of the media walking out of pressers and threatening to boycott government functions, let them threaten to stop all Cofit reporting. Museveni himself would come running with chocolate in hand.

If the president extended curfew by just two hours, for instance, he will have put as many as 200,000 Ugandans back to work especially in the hotel, restaurant and entertainment industries; but he doesn’t care, and sadly neither do many middleclass Ugandans who suppose that it’s their moral obligation as responsible citizens of the Global Village to fret over Cofit just because their ‘fellow citizens’ in Europe and America are doing so. Of course they can afford to do that because their corporate jobs have, for the most part, insulated them from the devastation of the government-instituted Cofit measures. They can enjoy working at home, beer in hand, as they listen to CNN and BBC and still expect the full complement of their salaries at the month end, and that makes them feel every bit like ‘their brothers’ overseas.

Such aspirational conformists are more likely to be offended by my stance on Cofit because they haven’t traversed crook and creek of this country and seen the damage reigned on this fragile society; not by the virus, but by the measures supposedly instituted to mitigate it.

You see, perhaps the most enduring damage this regime has done to our society is creating a three-part hierarchy of class and needs. At the zenith are a handful of connected ‘1986 generation’ and their families who feel entitled to all power and wealth. Beneath is a small (and shrinking) middleclass, and at the bottom of the pyramid is a mass of peasants. Every society, to various degrees, is ordered in the same fashion, but what makes Uganda unique is that the megalomaniacs at the top don’t give a nickel about the plight of the middleclass and the middleclass in turn don’t care a bit about the quandary of the peasant. The charlatans at the top will impose punitive taxes on the middleclass, then dip into NSSF coffers at a whim to share out their savings, and no one can stop them.

And the middleclass Ugandan, armed with his medical insurance, and safe in the knowledge that his wife is unlikely to die in child birth (20 Ugandans do EVERY DAY), and his children are very unlikely to die of malaria (20 do EVERY DAY), or from malnutrition (thousands do every year), will go around trumpeting Cofit because it’s more relevant to his status than malnutrition or malaria.

I could just as easily go down that path. I could also close my eyes to mothers failing to get breast milk because they can only afford half a meal a day (black tea with a piece of cassava), and the malnourished babies that emerge as a result; I could close my eyes to the teenage girls that were given out in marriage because schools closed, or those given out to meet family needs; I could ignore the fact that our president is opening 5-star markets in cities which have 1-star referral hospitals; I could also choose to look the other way and enjoy my middleclass lifestyle, but as an aspiring leader, I cannot.

As a leader, my aspiration is to remove the privileged/entitled class, to expand the middleclass (and their income), and to shrink the peasantry; but mostly to blur the lines that separate each category.
It doesn’t bode well for our country if the average Corporate Ugandan knows more about racism in America than about extreme poverty in Teso or Busoga because that disqualifies him/her from the solution to those local problems.

And finally, I have come to the realization that the biggest pandemic afflicting our country is poverty and the virus that causes it is called M7-1986. Vaccination against it is January 14

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Muntu Blocked in Kamwenge



Alliance for National Transformation presidential candidate Gen. Mugisha Muntu has been blocked from campaigning in Kamwenge according to a statement he released earlier today.Below is the full statement:

Today in Kamwenge, as we have done since the start of the campaign season, we headed out to speak with the people. We had earlier in the week agreed on the venue with security agencies. No one had anticipated that it would rain as much as it did, making it impossible for us or the people to access.

After identifying an alternative place only 100m away from the original venue, negotiating with the owner and communicating the same to the public, we headed to the second venue only to be stopped by police.

Our policy has always been to do all we can to be reasonable, even in the face of unreasonable action on the part of the state. We engaged the police leadership in a civilized, respectable manner well knowing that they intended to not only frustrate us, but cause us to act in ways that would give them an excuse to cause chaos. This was on top of their intimidating the radio we had booked and duly paid to appear on.

While we are confident that we are on the right side of both the law and reason, we have chosen not to endanger the lives of our supporters or the general public by escalating the situation. We will do everything humanly possible to avoid a single life being lost or blood being shed on account of our campaign.

And yet this truth remains: the regime’s days are numbered.



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