The Ministry of Health has commenced a countrywide survey to ascertain the extent of coronavirus infection and establish cases that went undiagnosed.
Health minister Jane Ruth Aceng said it is likely that many cases were not identified, concealing the actual extent of the pandemic.
“We are aiming at unmasking silent clusters that may have gone undetected in order to guide national response effort. It is possible many people could have got infected and we did not know so if we pick samples from them and run antibody test, then perhaps we will be able to unmask who got infected,” Dr Aceng told journalists in Kampala yesterday.
Government, at the peak of the pandemic, declined to launch mass testing for numerous reasons, including limited logistics.
Even with declining numbers of positive cases, experts say Uganda is not yet out of the woods.
Dr Aceng said the survey will boost response mechanisms to accompany the vaccination drive that was launched last week.
“The survey will establish the risk factors for severe disease, define the rates of symptomatic and asymptomatic infection, and define case fertility rate. We shall be able to understand the extent of the virus penetration, and find the emerging risk factors. The rapid assessment surveys [conducted last year] helped identify risk factors and this guided the response until now,” she said.
Lt Col Henry Kyobe, the national incidence commander of Covid-19, said the survey should have been conducted earlier but was delayed due to lack of logistics.
The survey will be conducted in conjunction with Africa Centres for Disease Control and is targeting nearly 10,000 samples from 5,100 households in 102 districts.
As of yesterday, 901,884 tests had been conducted according to the ministry.
Lt Col kyobe said two samples will be picked from each individual; a nasal swab to test for the virus and a blood sample for an antibody test.
“In responding to the virus, antibodies are built and we will use blood tests to ascertain whether respondents have suffered from the disease,” he said.