Uganda: Covid-19: Hospital guards who don’t blink day and night

Mamos Media

In control. Alex Leviticus sits outside the coronavirus isolation wards at Mulago hospital on May 6. PHOTO BY KELVIN ATUHAIRE 


Covid-19 isolation centres require full time security and round-the-clock watch, with the guards taking turns to take breakfast and lunch.
Because Covid-19 is highly infectious, the isolation and treatment can take up to one month.
And within that time, no visitors are allowed and the guards have to ensure strict security guidelines are fully enforced.
For some of the patients, it takes medics in the company of an armed soldier to get them into the isolation wards or accept to be treated for the virus. Hence, the guards have to keep their eyes open to save the day for others – the frontliners in the fight against the pandemic.

Sort of these robust measures, the first bullet of questions would be fired at them before the whole country plunges into panic mode.
“You have to be alert because some of the patients are stubborn. I make sure they do not come close to me. When I point my baton at them, they retreat. Some want to go out yet they are supposed to be in. So I have to be tough with them to keep inside,” says Leviticus, a 24- year- old guard.

Leviticus was deployed by ASKA, a private security firm, to guard the entrances to Mulago National Specialised Hospital Covid-19 isolation wards.
From the first day Mulago admitted its first Covid-19 patient, Leviticus has watched the drama as patients are brought into the ward amid tight security.
“Some of the patients are escorted by soldiers as the medics who are all wearing protective gear take him or her to the isolation ward. I watch them and have to make sure the patients do not come out or escape,” Leviticus says.

His colleagues sit about six metres away from the entrance to the isolation ward.
A yellow bin with a description, “Highly Infectious waste” stands at a corner to their right, leading to the lift.
The two guards have to watch and sanitise whoever emerges from the lift or any side of the stairs. There is no room for error. Everything at the isolation ward is done with utmost care and meticulousness precision to avoid risks.
Leviticus and colleague Moses, 39, both clad in their navy-blue ASKA security uniforms, are on duty this week.

They scan and sanitise whoever enters the Covid-19 isolation area.
Leviticus sticks with a one-litre Saraya sanitiser in his hand all through the one hour that Daily Monitor was at the isolation facility.
He knows some people mean well when they ask him questions about his safety.
“Some patients come and they want to get close to you, especially the ladies. They like asking for things from out yet they are provided food inside. When they insist, we have to try our level best to talk to them to go back to their wards,” he says.
Covid-19 patients are not just ordinary patients, and one requires personal protective equipment (PPE) to get close to them.

Recoveries. Mr Emmanuel Safari, who recovered
Recoveries. Mr Emmanuel Safari, who recovered from coronavirus, narrates his ordeal during a discharge ceremony of more seven patients at Mulago Hospital on April 16. Guards at facilities housing patients of Covid-19 don not go to sleep. PHOTO BY RACHEL MABALA

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But the guards are not among those who wear these PPE gears, putting their lives at risk.

Leviticus knows his first-line of protection from the deadly virus is hygiene and wearing a facemask.
“Some visitors ask how we manage to stay here. They say ‘will you not get infected?’ The visitors fear this area. Sometimes I just keep quiet and not answer their questions. I have to take it as normal work. That is life. Even if it is hard, I have to work to survive,” he says.
Whereas he lives alone at his rented single-room house in Kawempe, a Kampala suburb, Leviticus does not move beyond his house and workplace. His employers provide the most important meals for him, breakfast at 10am and lunch around 1pm.
The two guards take turns to eat from a secluded room on the ground floor around the outpatients’ area.

Daily routine
Leviticus’ day begins at 6.30am and the security company vehicle picks him up from his home.
The car which picks up and drops off others at their different posts takes about one-and-half hours.
But Leviticus has to be at his duty station by 8am to relieve the night guard. He works night shifts too but the shifts are scheduled to give them time to have some rest and be alert on duty.
Leviticus has been a security guard for three years now, shifting from guard duties at residential houses and offices to the hospital.

His deployment to the isolation ward is his first big high-security assignment.
“When they started bringing patients here, I was already working at Mulago. So they shifted me to this side. Our bosses were just selecting who comes to work here. We are like soldiers. You have to risk and work. It is work and we survive by God mercy and protection,” he tells Daily Monitor with a dry grin.


After completing Senior Four five years ago, Leviticus enrolled for a one-month driving course. His dream was to be a professional driver with but fate had another option for him. He could not find another job after his first driving gig with a boss, who travelled abroad and never returned.
Leviticus needed money to survive. So he applied and was recruited as a security guard, a job that keeps him and his colleagues constantly alert.
Whereas Leviticus hopes to return to driving someday, he hopes the salaries of security guards get revised upwards.
Leviticus did not want to reveal his monthly salary but aspires for a decent life with his family someday.

Credit to Daily Monitor.

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