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OPINION: Prioritize COVID19 testing to reduce surge in cases

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Today Friday June 18 marks exactly 5 days since I did my COVID19 test (PCR) from Platinum, Mulago National Referral Hospital but with no results yet.

After symptoms of illnesses suspectedly due to COVID19 given the nature of my job, I walked to Mulago National Referral Hospital on Monday for test. Terrified by the long queues all waiting to be tested, samples were picked from me and many others I saw. We were all told to call on two telephone contacts pinned at the entrance including one of MTN and another of Uganda telecom after 24 hours for our results.

I anxiously called on Wednesday at 10am put no one picked and the same was the case all day until around 4pm when someone picked but told me he could not access my results because the network on his computer was poor.

He instead told me to text my details including the email so he forwards results once the network stabilizes.

On Thursday, after waiting for the results on mail in vain, I called again on the numbers but no person picked.

Today after my television show, I called 5 times and someone picked on the sixth time. She asked for my name, presumably checked before telling me that my results were not yet in the system. It is also a public known that private facilities continue to charge exorbitant and unaffordable charges for COVID19 tests.

Now, that is where the problem is. As the country battles an unprecedented spike in cases of COVID19, it is time Uganda focused on availing testing services – making testing timely, accessible and affordable.

We can’t pride in doing everything in stoping the spread of the infection yet we are doing nothing about addressing the most important thing – testing. It should from the beginning have been prioritized by making it accessed at no cost in order to encourage as many Ugandans with symptoms test and take appropriate measures.

Today, many people have symptoms yet they can’t access testing services to confirm COVID19 or iron out the fear, yet they keep mixing with the rest of the people.

Government facilities which are carrying out tests should do it and provide results on time. In fact, authorities should allow mass testing of all Ugandans at no cost to understand the real picture of the pandemic in the country.

This writer, Kungu Al-mahadi Adam, is a Ugandan Journalist with passion for current African Affairs.

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