In Uganda, the number of coronavirus cases is on the slow rise, with an increasing number of Truck drivers from across the region getting tested, at the borders.
Here is my experience and bits of advice about my testing experience. The situation is likely to change given the surge in cases at the border and the neighboring countries, and each case is unique. What those that arrived in the country on March 22, 2020 experienced might not be the same as those at the border or what you may experience if you need to get tested.
Like so many individuals struggling to navigate the Uganda and Africa, in general health care system in recent weeks, I’ve had to contend with contradictory advice, misinformation, misunderstandings around testing for Corona-virus and COVID-19.
On Tuesday morning, April 21, 2020, I received a phone call from a new number. I have good phone etiquette, and picked the call…. "Good Morning, this is Esther from Ministry of Health. Am i speaking to Hillary?" the caller asked, to which I replied in the affirmative. I had returned from the USA - Harvard University on March 12, 2020.
She then told me, as per the President's directive, they are following up with all travelers who returned between March 7 to 22 when the airport was closed and they will be tested - I was one of the travelers in this lot, thus had to tested. She then asked for my address, or place of residence, and i shared this information with her.
At exactly 3:55 pm, I received another phone call from Esther, and she told me she was a few minutes away. 10 minutes later, they had made their way to the apartments I was staying - have been staying with a friend ever since my self isolation and quarantine. I walked down to receive them. They were a team of two, with a driver, in a Ministry of Health double cabin truck.
I was asked if i wanted the test done from their car or from the apartment, and I told them I am very comfortable with the apartment. We made our way up. Before the test could be taken, I was asked for more information about myself, and was also asked about my travel history and if I had any symptoms.
A few minutes after, I had to take my test. They took two specimens from me - a throat swab and a blood test, the latter shoved so far up my throat it felt like I had just snorted wasabi. Esther then informed me they would send the two specimens to the virus center for COVID-19 testing, which could take as much as 48 hours.
I was then told to stay home and keep calm. If my result was positive, I would receive a phone call from the Ministry and would be picked in an ambulance and taken to Mulago Hospital and everyone I had come into contact with would be quarantined.
On Thursday - April 23, 2020, at 4:30 pm, I called Esther and asked if my results were ready given, 48 hours had elapsed, to which she replied that my results were NEGATIVE. She then told me to send her a whatsapp text with details of my age, Date of Birth and name, that I did.
Two hours later, she shared with me my official results, that were Negative. I was relieved, that I was in the all clear. We arrived in Boston Massachusetts on March 4, 2020, and and at that time, the start had only 4 cases. By the time we left Boston, the state had registered over 100 cases.