The Soroti district COVID-19 Taskforce team is struggling to carry out surveillance after exhausting fuel donated to them by organizations, individuals and central government.
Besides the 165 million shillings sent to the district to cater for fuel allowances for the Taskforce members on surveillance, coordination and establishment of isolation centers among others, some individuals especially politicians, Non governmental Organizations and institutions have also been donating fuel to the taskforce.
In April, Soroti District COVID-19 Taskforce received at least 2,400 litres of fuel with Dakabela County MP Cosmas Elotu donating 2,000 litres of diesel, Partners for Children Worldwide, 200 liters, Teso Anti-Corruption Coalition- TAC, 100 litres, Total Petrol Station in Soroti, 80 litres and Public Affairs Center- PAC that offered one million shillings towards fuel.
According to the Resident District Commissioner of Soroti who also chairs the Taskforce, William Wilberforce Tukei, the fuel crisis has forced the district to reduce on the number of vehicles carrying out COVID-19 surveillance to three. He explains that at the beginning, the Taskforce had deployed 10 vehicles for surveillance where each sub county had a vehicle.
Tukei claims that the fuel was mismanaged when the team started responding to minor issues raised by the community like domestic violence, assaults and simple ailments. He explains that as COVID-19 outbreak was reported in the country, there was a lot of tension among members of community who started reporting cases of headache, cough or sneezing.
According to Tukei, the district requires up to 40 litres of fuel each day to adequately manage surveillance across the sub counties and the divisions in the municipality.
Celina Bako Alicemari, the Principal of Soroti Comprehensive Nursing School which hosts the quarantine center for COVID-19 suspects says that lack of fuel has crippled their operations in carrying out surveillance.
She explains that when four cases of the virus were confirmed in Soroti last week, the situation was not good because many other contacts needed to be traced and yet there was a fuel crisis.
“We had a forest of people coming in to be tested when the two children turned positive to COVID-19 in Orwadai. These people needed special transport to avoid risking others like boda- bodas from contracting the disease in case they have been infected but this was not possible due to fuel challenges,” she said during a meeting with the Taskforce.
Soroti has 16 suspects in the quarantine center with 13 cases at the treatment center located at Soroti Regional Referral Hospital.