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Public Health Experts Advise on Suitable PPE for Coronavirus Prevention

Folasade Ogunsola, a Professor of Microbiology based at the CDC said during the meeting that there is no use having whole-body coverage with PPE like the case is for Ebola since the coronavirus only affects the respiratory system.

Audio 4

Public health expert Prof. Freddie Ssengooba has cautioned government to carefully consider what is feasible for the country in the fight against Coronavirus Disease COVID-19 at a time when the world is awash of many untested options to control further transmission of the disease.

SSengooba who sits on the advisory committee of the National COVID-19 taskforce says that for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for instance, a health worker treating a positive case only needs a face shield and observing hand hygiene.

However, he adds, interventions have been too commercialized to the extent that doctors are now unaware of what protective gear works for which infection.  

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He says gear that covers the face area is enough for a respiratory infection like COVID -19 but people have borrowed the more expensive PPE model for Ebola that is designed for very infectious diseases.

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Ssengooba’s concerns were re-echoed at the latest webinar by the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa-CDC) where experts said that some aspects of PPE have no usefulness at all in terms of offering protection.

Folasade Ogunsola, a Professor of Microbiology based at the CDC said during the meeting that there is no use having whole-body coverage with PPE like the case is for Ebola since the coronavirus only affects the respiratory system.

“Why would a health worker use shoe covers as PPE in the management of COVID confirmed cases?” she wondered, “There’s no usefulness”.

As the debate on what PPE is appropriate or not continues, medical workers under the Uganda Medical Association have previously encouraged health workers to lay down their tools if the government is failing to offer them adequate protection while at work.

Speaking to URN on Friday, Dr Paul Stephen Ayella Ataro, the Vice President of the Association said they had already secured part of the USD 300,000 that they plan to collect from the fundraising drive they started last week to procure PPE for medical workers.

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Their fears, he says, arise from the fact that over 22,000 health workers have contracted COVID -19 and hundreds have died in the line of duty treating patients and yet the Ministry of Health is struggling to provide them the necessary PPE. 

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The most important PPE according to the association is the N95 Respirator masks or their alternative, FFP2 masks; surgical masks, eye protection (goggles and face shields), gloves and disposable gowns.      

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