YUMBE. The Yumbe district Covid-19 taskforce has planned to shift the current case treatment unit (CTU) located at Apo health centre III to Lokopio technical institute due to congestion and temporary structures.

The taskforce team had established the treatment unit at the facility to manage the mild cases at the facility but those with critical conditions are referred either to Arua regional referral hospital or Mulago national referral hospital.

Speaking during the taskforce meeting on Wednesday, Dr Alfred Yayi, the district health officer said the ministry of health had advised them that positive clients be managed at home but it has not been possible for some families given the nature of their homes.

He said the taskforce created its own Covid-19 isolation unit at Apo health centre III where mild cases are managed for about 10-14 days until they turn negative before discharging them.

"At the beginning of home based care policy, we realised that not all homes can meet the criteria for managing Covid-19 cases at home because some homes don't have enough space where we can safely isolate somebody in the household. When the surveillance team assesses that a case can't be managed at home, we take such a person to the CTU", he said.

He said the CTU is not recognized by the ministry of health but it's a local initiative of the taskforce and the partners are supporting the staff, pay their allowances and also provide food.

"Though the structures at Apo CTU are semi-permanent and others are temporary, it made us manage a number of cases but because of the rains and congestion, we are unable to continue in such kinds of structures because when it rains, it makes the patients uncomfortable. We have decided to shift to a structure with permanent buildings", Dr Yayi said.

"When we shift to Lokopio technical institute, we shall continue to work with our partners and also transfer those in the home based care to the CTU to avoid the escalation of the pandemic. The facility has enough space that can accommodate 90 beds with WASH facilities", Dr Yayi added.

Dr Yayi however said the challenge there is the issue of power because the facility has no solar system and it's also not connected to hydroelectricity power but there is a generator which can supply all the facilities which need some amount of fuel to run.

Mr Abdulmutwalib Asiku the district chairperson said it's necessary to transfer the case treatment unit to Lokopio technical institute so as to avoid any disaster as the structures are temporary.

"Initially, we had the plan of transferring the CTU to Yumbe regional referral hospital isolation unit but we have gotten challenges that the contractor is still on ground finalising some issues and also we needed clearance from ministry of health which has restrained us from transferring the treatment centre to the regional referral hospital", he said.

 He said it's appropriate to transfer the CTU because the infrastructure at Apo cannot contain the big number of Covid-19 positive cases in Yumbe.

Ms Caroline Angolere, the Yumbe resident district commissioner(RDC) said the health team has been facing a lot of challenges in managing the Covid-19 critical cases in the district.

She said the CTU at Apo is unable to accommodate a big number of patients.

"We currently have 30 patients at the CTU but on average, we get 6 positive cases per day in the district which is worrying us a lot. We have never experienced such cases before so it means we need to do much as the taskforce to curb the spread of the pandemic", Ms Angolere said.

Angolere however said, what is posing a challenge for them in Yumbe specifically is the presence of the porous border points with South Sudan.

"We have the South Sudanese who move through the porous border points freely and that's how we haven't been able to manage the spread of the pandemic. We have in our weekly meetings made resolutions as security team to enhance the surveillance at the border points to curb the rampant crossings of the South Sudanese in which we are registering success", the RDC said.

She continued "We have also engaged in sensitisation of the community using mobile public address system across the trading centres in the district including Bidibidi refugee settlement and also through Radio talk shows because it's difficult to have community Barazas to sensitize the people but the cooperation from the community is not good. The community is adamant about following the SOPs and we are trying our best as security to arrest those who are unable to observe SOPs because the cases are on the rise in the district".

The RDC attributed the surge in the Covid-19 cases to the strategy of the home based care because where monitoring is not effectively done due to the limited number of the surveillance team as such some of the patients at the home based care continue to share resources with the community making the cases go up daily.

The cumulative number of Covid-19 positive cases in Yumbe has risen to about 334 with 7 deaths registered.

In the last one week, 42 positive cases were registered in the district and in the last two months, 3 clients, mainly people of advanced ages, died because some of them are presented late in a critical condition but before reaching Arua, they die.