MBALE – Whenever medical workers are explaining the movement of COVID-19, I am reminded of the factor trees of numbers we did in primary mathematics.
A factor tree is a tool that breaks down any number into its prime factors – a certain number’s prime factorization is the list of prime factors that you would multiply together to create that certain number.
The COVID-19 transmission is a complex process that begins with a person being exposed to the virus and ends with infection of many others.
The news that the Boda Boda man from Kawuku cell in Katabi town council, Wakiso district turned out positive with Corona Virus [Covid 19] and could have exposed more than 50 people who were in direct contact with him including his family is not good news at all.
Mrs Diana Atwine, the PS ministry of health said that when he fell sick, he rode his Boda boda to Kasubi hospital, they took his samples but that even when he had all symptoms of Covid 19, the hospital released him back home.
Besides exposing many of his family members, friends and relatives to Covid 19, many workers at the Kasubi hospital who attended to him are in danger but later the same people who were exposed to him also used public transport back home or to other places.
Healthcare workers who spoke to PML Daily said they had not given any protective gear for Covid 19 at all.
It is feared that more than 10 health workers may have come into contact with the Boda Boda and exposed their families to the virus.
This alone reminds me of the Factor tree of numbers we did in Primary and later lower secondary whenever a patient is admitted at a hospital or carried by a Boda Boda rider or by a vehicle or by merely interacting with his family members and family members interact with the neighbours and later their relatives.
Factors” are the numbers you multiply to get another number, some numbers have more than one factorization (more than one way of being factored). For instance, 12 can be factored as 1×12, 2×6, or 3×4 etc.
The Corona virus tracker
The Boda Boda also interacted with the hospital attendants who received him and might not have had personal protective equipment.
“And many of these attendants don’t have their own vehicles. These could have also used Boda Bodas to get to their homes and may have exposed their family members, friends and other Boda bodas and passengers to the virus. This is frightening,” one medical worker said.
It is feared that more than 60 health people may have come into contact with the Boda Boda through a factor tree and exposed their families, friends and relatives to the virus.
No or Little training
Although many nurses at various hospitals across the country especially rural areas have not been trained on handling Covid-19 cases, they are usually included in the rota to see patient whenever they are brought in.
The patients are taken to hospitals where nurses and medical officers check their temperatures, breathing and other health vitals unfortunately the medical workers don’t have protection gear.
The patients spend not less than two days in the ward as medical procedures that emit the virus in the air such as intubation are being performed by doctors who are not also properly protected.
While at the ward, many a medical worker who takes samples from the patients for coronavirus testing have fear that they may have contracted the disease.
The interaction between the patients, the nurses and doctors who provide care also raises questions about the government’s seriousness in taking care of health workers, the most critical people in managing the pandemic.
Many a time the ministry of health tells journalists that the wards where the patients are treated would be disinfected but alas nothing is done about this.
President Museveni told the country during his address that the health workers would be provided with transport. “We are trying our best to protect them from infections…We could do better but we are trying,” he said.
The president downplayed the fears about medical workers and doctors’ abilities to handle the infection saying they have boosted the ministry with more than 80 doctors from UPDF..
“Do not underestimate the effectiveness of these medical workers. They can take care of themselves and the patients and Uganda is ready to fight off the Covid 19 virus,” he said.
It worth noting that in countries like Italy, as many as 12 per cent of the coronavirus fatalities are healthcare workers and many a research still shows that the virus is airborne in healthcare settings.
Key safety points
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says protection against airborne transmission is important, especially for health workers when they do medical procedures that can to produce smaller respiratory droplets.
Dr Muhammed Mulongo [Mbale regional referral] said medical procedures include insertion of tubes as performed on the patient by some of the nurses and medical officers.
“And the mere act of breathing by the patients can infect the medical workers,” said Dr Mulongo.
According to Dr Mulongo when a healthcare worker stands by the bed of a Covid 19 patient, it does not matter whether that sick person is speaking or not but that the particles the patient emits will be breathed in by someone who could be as far away as five feet.
“And if these particles are pathogenic – containing the virus causing Covid -19 or even SARS-CoV-2 – the healthcare provider will be infected,” Dr Mulongo said.
Says that available research supports the possibility that SARS-CoV-2 could be spread via bioaerosols generated directly by patients’ exhalation.”
Bioaerosols are the fine particles let out when someone breathes out rather than larger droplets produced through coughs and sneezes. Bioaerols can be suspended in the air.
Medical advice from WHO to prevent yourself from Covid 19
Wash your hands frequently
Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
Maintain social distancing
Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.
Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
Practice respiratory hygiene
Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
Why? Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.
If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early
Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek
medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.
Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections.
Stay informed, follow advice given by your healthcare provider
Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19. Follow advice given by your healthcare provider, your national and local public health authority or your employer on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on whether COVID-19 is spreading in your area. They are best placed to advise on what people in your area should be doing to protect themselves.
Protection measures for persons who are in or have recently visited (past 14 days) areas where COVID-19 is spreading.
Follow the guidance outlined above.
Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose, until you recover.
Why? Avoiding contact with others and visits to medical facilities will allow these facilities to operate more effectively and help protect you and others from possible COVID-19 and other viruses.
If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition.
Call in advance and tell your provider of any recent travel or contact with travelers.
Why? Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also help to prevent possible spread of COVID-19 and other viruses.
The writer is a veteran journalist and senior writer at PML Daily Limited, Uganda’s leading online news portal.