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Lack of Protective Gears Hindering Covid-19 Sample Collection in Kitgum

Janani Opoka Luwum, the head of sample collection and a Laboratory specialist at Kitgum General Hospital notes that the facility which is the main center for covid-19 testing has run out of stock of PPE.
09 Jun 2021 14:30
A health worker extract swab sample from a South Sudanese government official for Covid-19 testing at Apiriti border post in Lamwo District in January 2021.

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Lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is hampering the collection of samples in Kitgum District for Covid-19 testing.

The revelation comes just a day after the District Covid-19 task force made resolutions to start conducting mass and random Covid-19 testing to ascertain the trend of the virus. 

At least two people tested positive for the virus in the last week, sparking concerns of undetected community infection in the district as the second covid-19 wave sweeps across the country.

Janani Opoka Luwum, the head of the sample collection and a Laboratory specialist at Kitgum General Hospital notes that the facility which is the main centre for covid-19 testing has run out of stock of PPE. 

He says that they currently don’t have essential PPE such as N95 masks, gowns, safety goggles, face shield, and sanitizer which are key for safe swab sample extraction for covid-19 testing.

Luwum notes that they recently borrowed 10 gowns from the neighbouring Lamwo District health department but have since been utilized in extracting 10 samples that were taken for testing.

“The last gown we had was used on Tuesday to extract swab sample from a suspected covid-19 patient within Kitgum Municipality, right now we have none and this makes it hard to conduct a test for covid-19,” He said. 

Despite lack of PPE, Luwum notes that the hospital still has got enough stock of RDT and PCR testing kits for covid-19.

Innocent Rubangakene, a Laboratory scientist at the same facility notes that it has become a struggle to acquire PPE to conduct testing. He says the situation has left them unable to conduct tests and at some points, they only carry on few people with symptoms.

Simon Knox Okongo, Kitgum District Surveillance Focal Point person says a request was recently made to the National Medical Stores (NMS) for more stock of PPE but notes that there has been a delay in supply.

He notes that despite the inadequate stock of PPE they have continued to conduct testing by borrowing gowns from the neighbouring Lamwo District.

Kitgum Resident District Commissioner William Komakech has appealed to stakeholders in the district for an urgent supply of PPE to facilitate the safe collection of swab samples for covid-19 testing.

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A total of 2,158 swab samples have been collected from residents in Kitgum district for covid-19 testing out of which 292 were found positive since March 2020. 163 of the positive cases were inmates from Kitgum Central Prison.

The district has also registered two covid-19 deaths since the outbreak of the contagion last year.