Erias Lukwago, Kampala’s Lord Mayor, has suggested that, in addition to other preventive measures, the government should cover the costs of all COVID-19 tests done throughout the country.
The Kampala Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago has said that in relation to other preventive measures, the government should consider covering costs for all COVID-19 tests done countrywide.
Lukwago made the remarks while chairing the first Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) council meeting on Wednesday.
He said with the city centre being the epicentre of most new contact cases, the government should extend free testing services to all individuals countrywide to be in a position to trace relatively well the degree to which the virus is spreading.
In its latest report, the health ministry indicated that the testing rate lies at about 15.3%. This percentage according to Lukwago is too small and very alarming more so at a time when almost all people tested return with positive results.
“We note with great concern that Kampala is an epicentre for the virus. Testing for COVID-19 should be a routine but it should be done free of charge. We should devise means of ensuring it (testing) is done free of charge,” the Lord Mayor appealed.
“In private health facilities, testing is as high as shs200,000 and shs300,000 for the PCR test and not less than shs100,000 for the rapid test. We urge government to do the needful so that testing is done free of charge.”
In addition, the Lord Mayor also raised concerns about the scarcity of vaccines countrywide. He said much as they are requesting people to get vaccinated, the vaccines are not enough to meet the rising demands.
He said that government must undertake all the necessary procedures to ensure that more and more vaccines are purchased to help save the country amidst a rising number of deaths from infections.
“We have been asking people to come for vaccination but there are no vaccines. The situation is dire. Government needs to do something about it. We need to revisit our budget as KCCA and see how some allocations can be put to fight Covid,” Lukwago added.
He, however, spoke about the recent reports on 21,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine that went missing at KCCA offices. Similarly earlier this week, the police raided several pharmacies and recovered over 800 dosages of the vaccine that were being sold.
A police spokesperson, Fred Enanga, said at least seven suspects were arrested on reliable intelligence information about stolen government COVID-19 vaccines. He said the group was caught in action while administering the vaccine to their clients.
“These include; Seremba Festo, Mushabe Festo, Lyanzi Deogratius Arnold, Cherop Nelson, Tayebwa Viola, Sekasi Julius and Nakadya Julian who were arrested while administering the vaccine to their clients,” Enanga said.
“Upon search at the pharmacy, over 803 Astra Zeneca vaccines were recovered, thousands of empty virals supposed to be returned to government health facilities for accountability, over 1000 Ministry of Health vaccination cards, consent forms, Kiswa Health Centre and Naguru Health Centre Stamps, Test tubes.”
Speaking about this act, Lukwago said they (KCCA) will join the police and other concerned bodies to help fight the bad vice because it is doing a disservice to the government’s efforts to contain the virus.
“There are unconfirmed reports making rounds in the media. I was perturbed by the same and shared it with the Executive Director (Kisaka) and agreed to start investigations. I don’t want to take it as gospel truth but if it is true, it is absurd. We are investigating it and shall establish its authenticity,” the Lord Mayor promised.