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AFENET Secretariat support to the COVID-19 response in Uganda

As soon as the COVID-19 outbreak was declared in China on 7 January 2020, the Ministry of Health (MoH) started to prepare for possible spread of the outbreak to Uganda. During the preparedness phase, the technical team at the AFENET Secretariat worked closely with the MoH to develop a preparedness and response plan, and to build national response capacities. Uganda reported the first confirmed case of COVID-19 on 22 March 2020. A total of 44 confirmed cases have been reported as of 02 April 2020.

On the 23 March 2020, the AFENET Secretariat deployed a team of 6 epidemiologists: Dr. Ben Masiira, Dr. Hasifa Bukirwa, Dr. Kevin Mugenyi, Dr. Joseph Magoola, Dr. Christine Kihembo, and Dr. Godfrey Kayita to support the MoH to response to the COVID-19 epidemic in Uganda. On the day of deployment, the AFENET epidemiologists attended a national COVID-19 stakeholders’ technical meeting to review the national policies, guidelines and response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On 24 March 2020, the AFENET epidemiologists met with the Incident Commander for the COVID-19 response (Atek Kagirita), the Assistant Commissioner Epidemiology and Surveillance and the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) Senior Epidemiologist to discuss the terms of reference and deployment.

The AFENET epidemiologists are currently participating in risk communication and public education on radio. Messages delivered on radio talk-shows focused on transmission, signs and symptoms and prevention of COVID-19. The AFENET teams were deployed to contact tracing, follow-up of contacts to identify suspected cases and COVID-19 alert management. Other activities supported included: supervision of patient screening at Mulago National Referral Hospital, and assessment of selected workplaces in Kampala City to provide technical support on infection prevention and control.