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The Role of Sample Collection and Management during the Covid-19 pandemic

By: John Bosco Kamugisha, Msc, Emergency Care Practitioner, Masaka Program Coordinator

My role during the pandemic was sample collection and management for Masaka Hospital’s Coronavirus Response Team. This includes collection, packing, refrigeration, recording, and transporting samples.

In the beginning people feared to take samples, so I boldly accepted to be trained to do sample management. My two colleagues and I trained other regions on how to do sample management which helped to increase human resource capabilities, and reduce the staffing gaps in management of Covid-19. Being on the frontline as a sample manager, I used to pick follow up samples from the Covid-19 Treatment Unit which was a tough task in the beginning because no one wanted to be exposed. In the middle we faced a lot of stigma arising from colleagues who didn’t want us to be close to them.

The worst stigma was when I went to the market to buy food and the vendor said “you work in corona so I can’t touch your money” It affected me so much but later I improved. Even our colleagues used to call us Covid-19 and this increased stigma outside work place.

My role as a sample management officer is key in that I can collect appropriate sample and send it in time for early diagnosis then I follow up on contacts if one person turns positive. Contact tracing helps to reduce the transmission of the virus. Sample management is also key in that if results are positive or negative it helps to isolate those who are suspected to have the virus.

Life has changed since the President started to uplift the lock down. Many shops are open, markets stores, schools, and other institutions. People used to follow the guidelines but as time went on and no one was dying most Ugandans are no longer following guidelines.

Many people no longer put on masks, any soap or sanitizer at the work place. Many people believe that Covid-19 is a ‘hoax” and is being politicized. The campaigns for elections have made things worse because no one is now following any guidelines. We anticipate that there might be an influx of cases after elections.

Let’s stay safe, sanitize, wash our hands, wear masks correctly, and protect our families.

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