Gulu, Uganda | URN | Twenty-five Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) patients who were aboard the burnt Parliament bus destined for Kampala have been admitted for treatment at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital.
The patients from Kitgum District had been denied admission at the referral treatment unit on Monday due to space limitations. On Thursday, they travelled to Gulu from where the Ministry of Health had sent a bus to transport them to treatment facilities in Kampala.
But the bus, registration number UG-0391H, attached to the Parliament of Uganda caught fire near Koro Trading Centre, along the Gulu – Kampala highway. One of the patients aboard the bus who spoke to to this publication on condition of anonymity says they were all opposed to being evacuated to Kampala for treatment.
However, there was a stampede at the scene of the fire after many onlookers who drew closer to rescue patients from the burning bus noticed strange attire of the driver and health workers who adorned in COVID-19 rescue outfits jumped off the automobile.
Augustine Ojara Lacambel, an eyewitness at the scene said the patients scattered in disarray but were shortly assembled at El-Shadai Primary School where they later evacuated to Gulu COVID-19 treatment facility. Gulu City Resident Commissioner Maj. Santos Okot Lapolo told this publication that they had to admit the patients in Gulu after the ‘unfortunate incident’.
Patrick Jimmy Okema, the Aswa River Region Police Spokesperson says the cause of the fire remains unknown and investigations have commenced, to ascertain what sparked off the tragic incident.
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According to Dr Paska Apiyo, a Physician in-charge of Gulu COVID-19 treatment unit, they are treating more than 120 active cases in the facility with a 74-bed capacity. Dr Apiyo added that the treatment centre has also run out of essential food supplies, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and drug supplies like Zinc, Vitamin C and Erythromycin used for treating patients compounded by staff shortage.
Gulu treatment centre has been overwhelmed by fresh cases from neighbouring Kitgum, Lamwo, Pader, Amuru, Omoro and Nwoya Districts. More than 550 patients have been cumulatively admitted and treated at the facility since April.