Monday, 17 August 2020

CHEMICALS, STAFF SHORTAGES HIT COVID-19 TESTING


MOST of the country’s Covid-19 centres have scaled down testing of the killer virus due to staff and chemical shortages, making it difficult to gauge the extent of the spread of the pandemic, the Daily News can report.

This comes as health experts said Zimbabwe was yet to flatten the coronavirus curve despite reduced new infections in the recent past.

The country now has close to 5 200 positive cases of coronavirus, including 130 deaths and for over a week had been recording less than the average 100 cases a day.

Secretary-general of the Senior Hospital Doctors Association (SHDA) Arron Musara told the Daily News yesterday that testing centres were facing serious challenges.

“A number of centres have scaled down tests because of staff shortages. Some staff are testing positive, so they go into isolation. Some laboratories are facing shortages of reagents which are used in Covid-19 testing. We hope the situation will improve soon,” Musara said.

Contacted for comment, deputy Health minister John Mangwiro referred questions to permanent secretary in the ministry, Jasper Chimedza, whose phone was not reachable.

“This is a technical issue and the person who can answer this is the permanent secretary,” Mangwiro said.

This comes after health experts said Zimbabweans should not to relax because of the recently reduced new infections as the country was not yet out of danger.

Musara said the nation had to remain focused on combating the disease.

“It is difficult to say that we have now flattened the curve. We need more time before we can get to that conclusion.

“We are facing testing challenges and this may result in a reduction of recorded cases of Covid-19. Results are also taking long to come, and so we cannot say we have flattened the curve,” Musara said.

“High temperatures might have a bearing, but so far we are not sure. We must not be complacent and we need to remain vigilant because Covid-19 is still there and the number of cases can increase,” he added.

The president of the Zimbabwe Nurses Association, Enock Dongo, also warned that the country was yet to reach the virus peak.

“It’s too early to say that we have flattened the curve. We are not testing much and that affects the number of cases recorded.

“We need to be cautious and follow the set guidelines, like maintaining social distancing. We are not out of danger. We yet to get to the peak, and as such we are likely to see cases going up.
“Many people are not going for tests because most of them are recovering at home. There is a need to guard against complacency. It’s not yet over because the disease is in our communities,” Dongo said. Daily News

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