Namboole starts admitting COVID-19 patients today

Beds inside the facility

Beds inside the facility

The Mandela National Stadium treatment facility is now ready to start admitting asymptomatic COVID-19 patients.  

The facility which has been fitted with 210 beds, will start receiving patients as early as today according to the COVID-19 case management team. The available beds have been divided into two wards. The ward for male patients has 104 beds fitted with mattresses while 106 beds will be left for female patients. A two-meter space separates the beds.  

The ministry was handed over the management of the facility officially by the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) that carried out rehabilitation works on the sports facility. Health ministry permanent secretary Dr Diana Atwine said that the facility will be used to manage asymptomatic patients. She said that Uganda made a decision to manage all COVID-19 positive cases at designated places to avoid further spread of the disease.   

"Science shows if you’re shedding virus, then you’re more dangerous to the people around and therefore transmission continues and continues and continues. That is why for us our approach is slightly a bit different from a number of countries. For us, we believe that we’re able to get every person who has positive results and is shedding virus, we’re able to minimize the spread of the infection. And that is why from March up to now, we have registered 3,000 [cases] while many of our counterparts who have registered in tens and thousands. So we still believe that this is the best." said Atwine. 

This comes as medics under the Uganda Medical Association have advocated for the introduction of home care for asymptomatic cases so as to free the overwhelmed hospitals. The facility will be run by health workers from Kiriddu referral hospital. Atwine said that Ugandans should not claim that the patients admitted there are fake cases if they see them running around the stadium since they are asymptomatic patients. 
Dr Charles Kabugo, the executive director of Kiruddu hospital says that people should not look at the opening of the Namboole treatment facility as a failure on the part of government to manage COVID-19.  

"We anticipated this phase, and it has been part of our preparations. It is not that we have lost the battle. Please let us be clear about this. Opening up of beds here doesn’t mean that all our previous efforts have been wasted…We’re opening up this because we don’t want people to stay in communities and continue to transmit the disease, we also want to free space in our hospitals." said Kabugo. 

A fifth of the stadium facility has undergone works to be able to accommodate 1,500 patients. According to CRS, the rehabilitation and renovation works cost Shs 400 million. As part of the renovations, the floors, walls, windows and bathroom, facility were worked on. The works also included extending water to parts of the stadium that previously did not have water. 

The treatment facility will also have a laboratory where testing of other conditions like malaria will be carried out. Namboole is opened at a time when the ministry is struggling to admit positive cases to hospitals due to the shortage of space. As of Friday, over 400 asymptomatic patients were still holed up in their homes. Last week, Health minister Dr Ruth Aceng made a bizarre claim that the reason the asymptomatic patients had not been picked up from their homes was due to the heavy city traffic jam.  

Dr Henry Mwebesa, the director-general of Health Services says that some of the patients that were still home will be sent to Namboole.  

“Since Friday, we have been working towards picking these positive cases and taking them to hospital. As of today, we only have around 100 still in their homes. With the handing over of this space, some of the patients will be brought here,” Dr Mwebesa said.
In addition, an evacuation and ambulance team from the Uganda RedCross Society have been briefed and inspected Namboole to start making referrals to the facility.  

As of today, Uganda has a total of 3,776 COVID-19 reported cases and 44 deaths.    
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