Uganda’s Ministry of Health raised an alarm over a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases in schools as the country battles a second wave of infections and deaths.
According to Director-General of Health Services Dr. Henry Mwebesa at least 29 schools from 17 districts had recorded at least 803 confirmed cases and one death.
Some universities, Mwebesa added, have also reported cases and are under investigation.
“The main drivers of transmission in schools are overcrowding, non-adherence to Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and inadequate supervision of the learners,” Mwebesa said during a media briefing on Thursday.
Mwebesa urged school authorities to improve their surveillance of students and teachers and rigorously implement the existing health measures.
“I want to appeal to the administrators of the schools to step up vigilance, identify sick learners and teachers early, enforce adherence to SOPs and report promptly to the nearest health facility for any suspected cases,” Mwebesa said.
There was no indication, however, as to whether the government was considering closing down schools, which received approval to reopen in a phased manner in February.
Mwebesa also called on teachers and lecturers who had not yet been vaccinated to urgently get the jab to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.
“A growing body of scientific evidence from the Centers for Disease Control of the USA, suggests that fully vaccinated people are less likely to be infected without showing symptoms and potentially less likely to spread the virus that causes COVID-19 to others,” he noted.
“As such vaccination is viewed as strong tool to prevent and control the pandemic and many countries worldwide are increasing their vaccination coverage on a daily basis in an attempt to interrupt COVID19 transmission.”
Mwebesa’s revelation came as Ugandan health authorities warned residents that a second wave was upon the country and young people were being “severely affected”.
Since May 19, Uganda has reported a total of 1,988 confirmed cases, pushing the total to 43,919, with May 18 being the last time less than 100 daily new cases were recorded. Seven deaths have also being reported in that period taking the death toll to 357.
Mwebesa blamed the current phenomenon largely on complacency in following the COVID-19 public health prevention measures.
“It’s obvious from our statistics that the number of cases and deaths are increasing. Our data shows that the most affected age group is 20-39 years old,” Mwebesa said.
“The intensity of severe and critically ill COVID-19 patients is higher than what we experienced in the 1st wave of the pandemic. In the first wave, it took us three to four months to get to the full blown pandemic, while in the second wave, it has taken us less than 10 days.”