Monday, 13 December 2021


OVER 170 doctors and nurses at Mpilo Central Hospital and the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) are in isolation after testing Covid-19 positive, a development that is likely to cripple health care service delivery at Bulawayo’s two major referral hospitals.

The bulk of the health workers that have tested positive are nurses.

The latest infections were recorded over the past two weeks, a trend which Mpilo Central Hospital acting chief executive officer Professor Solwayo Ngwenya said is worrying. Mpilo has recorded 77 cases and UBH 99 cases among health workers since the beginning of this month.

On Sunday, the country recorded 2 138 new cases and three Covid-19 related deaths with Bulawayo recording two deaths and 200 new infections.

According to the Ministry of Health and Child Care daily report, as of Sunday, the country had recorded 167 140 cases, 129 776 recoveries and 4  738 deaths since March last year. Active cases rose to 32 626 from 2 843 in 11 days.

Over the last two weeks, Bulawayo recorded 3 277 new Covid-19 cases, the highest being on December 9 when 679 cases were recorded in a single day. Five deaths were recorded in the metropolitan province during the same period.

Statistics from the Ministry of Health and Child Care show that by Saturday, a total of 242 Covid-19 patients had been hospitalised with 53 new admissions. At least 211 had mild to moderate symptoms, 24 severe and six were admitted in intensive care units (ICUs).

A total of 3 956 020 people had received their first Covid-19 vaccine while 2 976 972 had received their second jab countrywide.

Prof Ngwenya said they recorded 77 cases of infections among doctors and nurses.

“Since the beginning of December, we have 77 members of staff who were infected with Covid-19 and they self-isolated.

We are now being affected in terms of human resources and at the same time there is a rise in hospitalisation and this can only play out to be a disaster,” he said.

Prof Ngwenya said the high number of health care workers in isolation was affecting service delivery at the hospital which is now forced to operate with skeletal staff.

“We had a lot of infections among our staff and they had to go home on quarantine resulting in our services being crippled,” he said.

Prof Ngwenya said they recorded four Covid-19 deaths in the last four days.

“As our staff are on isolation, this affects our ability to render health care to the rising number of hospitalisations. Unfortunately, despite measures by Government to ensure workers have adequate PPEs, community transmissions are so high hence our workers are at risk as they use public transport and mingle with asymptomatic people who continue spreading the virus,” he said.

In July, 63 health workers comprising of doctors and nurses at Mpilo Central Hospital had to go on isolation after testing positive to Covid-19.

UBH acting chief executive officer Dr Harrison Rambanapasi said since the beginning of December, 99 doctors and nurses tested positive for Covid-19.

“Since the first of December we have had 99 health workers across the board including students testing positive and isolating at home. However, no staff member has been admitted, which means they are not very sick,” he said.

“If you look at the national statistics, the positivity rate at UBH is almost the same with the national one, which shows that the Omicron is highly transmissible.”

Dr Rambanapasi urged citizens to continue to get vaccinated and adhere to health regulations to curb the spread of the virus. The UBH has a workforce of more than 1 600.

“If you look at the issue of testing, logistically it is difficult to do mass testing in view of a workforce of more than 1 600. Testing them routinely might end up affecting service delivery as that means people will have to queue to get tested,” said Dr Rambanapasi.

“However, we only test those with symptoms and in the process of doing so, we have had a significant number of our staff testing positive for Covid.”

President Mnangagwa recently announced new lockdown measures.

Some of those measures include mandatory 10-day quarantine for all returning residents and visitors. The new regulations stipulate that everyone entering Zimbabwe must undergo a Covid-19 PCR test even when they produce a Covid-19-free certificate from elsewhere.

The President’s address was in response to reports of a new strain of Covid-19 virus which has been reported in many countries in Sadc and beyond.

Omicron has a high number of mutations, 32, in its spike protein, and preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection, when compared with other variants of concern. Chronicle


Post a Comment