• Sat. Jul 2nd, 2022

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UVRI Chief paints Picture on how the Institute battled the spread of COVID-19

The director of Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI), painted out a clear picture about what exactly the institute went through in its battle to fight the spread of the new strain of corona virus that jetted into the country in March last year from Dubai, after contracting a Ugandan businessman who had returned home from a business trip.

On Thursday during an interview with Prof. Pontiano Kaleebu a senior virologist and director of UVRI, puts it clear that before the pandemic, the picture of UVRI was not clearly painted as it is now. “Being the initial lab that did most of the tests, and us being experts that were consulted all the time about this virus, made us recognised,” remarked Prof. Kaleebu.

 

At first, he says staff’s reaction was furious as they feared to contract the virus, which they had less clue about.  “As a reference lab, we were given more responsibilities, people were bringing kits, waiting to be used, and yet some were not of good quality, yet they kept on putting a lot of pressure on us. More so, the business people wanted to make out of this situation” intimated Prof. Kaleebu.

With unenjoyable incident drawing attention, Prof. Kaleebu said, UVRI took many responsibilities, yet there were few staff. “You can imagine everyone being home not working, but waiting for news, of which from UVRI, the whole country was looking at, to provide information to them every day. It was tense, we had a lot of pressure, because we could struggle to deliver in time, although test kits to use were not enough,” recalls Prof Kaleebu.

A Lab attendant at UVRI during the Covid19 times

The virologists also added that, though they were overwhelmed by responsibilities, the team didn’t shy away from using their expertise to take on the given tasks. Prof. Kaleebu who is a medical academia at the London School of Hygiene, lauded the entire UVRI team for what he termed as job well done.

He however, appealed to the government, to consider funding the UVRI heavily to improve on its services to the nation. “The institution of this kind, which has been working on viruses and preparedness, is important and government should heavily invest in  in our work,” appealed Prof. Kaleebu.

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