Saturday 28 March 2020


MEDICAL personnel at the privately run Avenues Clinic in Harare downed tools yesterday in protest over lack of personal protective equipment in the wake of the deadly coronavirus.

There are suspicions, however, that more cases are going unreported and some of the suspected cases are finding their way to private hospitals, where they will be handled by unprotected medical staff, increasing the risk of the spread of the deadly virus, an allegation government denies.

When NewsDay Weekender visited the clinic yesterday, there was strict screening at the entrance while the nurses congregated near the management offices as negotiations with worker representatives went on.

Tecla Barangwe of the Medical Workers Union said there were suspicions that suspected COVID-19 patients were being taken in and some were exhibiting signs and symptoms of the deadly disease and without the necessary equipment, workers could not continue risking their lives.

“We have taken note that suspected coronavirus patients could have been taken in secretly, but management is failing to provide adequate equipment to the workers,” she said.

“They have decided to put tools down until such a time management provides adequate personal protective equipment.”

Senior doctors and nurses in public hospitals across the country on Wednesday downed tools demanding protective clothing.

Several doctors internationally have died after contracting the virus while attending to patients.

Italy alone, the epicentre of the virus in Europe, has lost 37 doctors since the outbreak of the virus, which is now claiming over 600 lives daily in the European country.

Added Barangwe: “They say the equipment is in short supply, but there are patients in the wards with symptoms of COVID-19 and we gather some of the patients had travelled out or had contact with an infected person, but our members say they have realised that some could have been infected, so we are saying no protective, clothing no work.” 

Interviewed workers said every case in these days of coronavirus was potentially dangerous and now difficult to handle without adequate protective clothing.

“Every case that we have these days is a potential case and it is difficult to attend to the cases without adequate protective clothing,” one of the striking workers said.

Asked whether they have had suspicious cases of late, another worker said: “We have had quite a number of cases that we suspected here and that is the reason why we have taken this step. It is dangerous for us to continue working like this.”

Meanwhile, Epworth Local Board chairman Batanai Masunda, who on Thursday reported a suspected case of coronavirus after a man with a history of travelling from Durban, South Africa, had exhibited flu-like symptoms, yesterday said the man had now been admitted at Beatrice Road Infectious Diseases Hospital in Harare and is awaiting results.

The said man had spent the whole day at a local clinic in Epworth, with medical personnel refusing to attend to him saying they did not have protective equipment. Newsday


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