Over 2,000 people are being hunted by the Masindi district coronavirus task force, as they are suspected to have had contact with the 29-year-old Police officer who tested positive for COVID-19.
The officer who tested positive for COVID-19 is attached to the Criminal Investigations Directorate of Masindi Central Police Station. He tested positive last week during the rapid and random testing designed for high-risk groups in the population.
The Police officer is believed to have come into contact with an unspecified number of people as he investigated cases in the community and at the Police station, as well as enforcing the lock down measures in the district.
The Masindi case and a 22-year-old man in Rakai district, who returned from Tanzania recently and did not self-isolate, have raised fears of possible community transmission.
The head of the COVID-19 case management in the district, Dr Rodgers Musinguzi, said the district authorities have developed a list of about 2,000 people linked to the Police officer directly and indirectly.
“We are looking for his direct contacts and contacts of his direct contacts,” he added.
The 2,000 people include 12 Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) officers attached to the military barracks in Masindi, who are said to have had contacts with the Police officer.
According to the district task-force, the UPDF soldiers and their 22 relatives have been placed under institutional quarantine.
Masindi Public Primary School and one of the wards in the district hospital have been converted into institutional quarantine facilities to manage the numbers. The school and the hospital are located within close proximity. “We are now tracing for more contacts.
The positive case is being managed at Hoima Hospital,” Musinguzi added.
At total of 104 Police officers and their relatives residing in the force’s barracks in Masindi were placed under isolation at the weekend. The barracks has since been cordoned off to restrict movement into and out of the facility.
A total of 64 Police officers, mainly from Kampala, according to the Resident District Commissioner, Martin Mugabi, have since replaced the quarantined personnel.
The new force now running the station is being accommodated at Kabalega Secondary School, located near the Police facility.
Mugabi said once the task of generating the list of contacts is over, the task force would determine who to quarantine. Mugabi appealed to the public to refrain from dealing with the Police officers under quarantine on matters regarding cases lodged at the station.
“I appeal to the community to deal with the new group of Police officers. Please do not go to the old group for matters regarding your cases. The new Police officers are now in charge of your cases. There should be no business with the old group,” Mugabi added.
He explained that inmates and suspects, who might have gotten into contact with Police officers in the course of discharging their duties, are “safe” because none of the tests done at the prison facility turned positive.
“But this police officer who has been found positive was not dealing with prisoners. He was involved in investigations and patrols,” he added.
On Sunday, Police said all officers and their families under quarantine shall be tested for the virus.
“Further measures shall be communicated to ensure safety of all people wishing to access Police services at our stations,” the deputy police spokesperson, Polly Namaye, said in a press release.
The Police also carried out a vigorous sanitation exercise at Masindi Police Station.
Following the development, top Police bosses, including the director operations, director medical services and deputy director logistics and engineering, rushed to Masindi district to handle the precarious situation.
In addition, the medical surveillance team, which is part of the district COVID-19 taskforce, will continue engaging Police families in geographical quarantine and counsel them so as to prevent stigma.
The team will enforce hand washing and Police station and sensitise communities to follow the guidelines as directed by health ministry.
A new team has also been constituted to ensure service delivery at Masindi Police Station, this includes
ASP Imukose Stephen (DPC)
ASP Ekwang Job (OC)
ASP Muhumuza Patrick (OC operation)
D/AIP Adong Rose (CID)
D/AIP Ogwang Kenneth (CI)
AIP Isoke Francis (CLO)
Basima Charles (OC traffic)
Additional Reporting: New Vision