Sunday 26 July 2020


FOUR high-density suburbs have been singled out the hotspots of the Covid-19 pandemic in Bulawayo, with authorities hinting that considerations were being put in place to introduce stiffer lockdown measures in those areas.

Bulawayo has the second highest Covid-19 cases in the country with figures released by the Ministry of Health and Child Care stating that as on Friday the city had 618 confirmed cases. Of these, 569 are local transmissions with 15 deaths recorded in the city. There were 2 296 confirmed cases countrywide on Friday with 32 deaths and 514 recoveries since the outbreak in the country on 20 March.

Health authorities in the city have since identified Cowdray Park, Magwegwe West, Nkulumane and Emganwini suburbs as having the highest number of infections while in terms of institutions, the hotspots have been identified as Mpilo Central Hospital, United Bulawayo Hospitals, Khami Maximum Prison and Bulawayo Prison. Nonetheless, it could not be established how many confirmed cases were attributed to each locality.

Speaking on the sidelines of a provincial Covid-19 taskforce meeting at Ekusileni Hospital yesterday, Bulawayo City Council Director of Health Services, Dr Edwin Sibanda said of all the confirmed 59 cases had been admitted to Thorngrove Hospital and Elangeni Isolation facilities. 

“The hotspots that have been identified in the Metropolitan Province of Bulawayo are the two central hospitals, Mpilo and UBH, Khami Maximum Prison, Bulawayo Prison, Cowdray Park, Magwegwe West, Nkulumane and Emganwini suburbs. What we have done is that we have upped health education in these areas noting that this is key in public health intervention. Public Health Surveillance systems are currently in place to assist in the early detection, monitoring, prediction and prevention of human illness,” said Dr Sibanda.

He noted that of the confirmed cases 115 are health workers of which 51 are student nurses, 37 registered general nurses, seven nurse aids, five general hands, four doctors, three administration clerks, three medical students, a health information clerk, an environmental health technician, a community health nurse, a physiotherapist and a matron. A total of 51 percent of the cases are female, with the 25-34 years age group being the most affected.

“Within the identified suburbs, we have noted that the major threat to containing the spread will be the public transport industry (Zupco buses) and bowser water distribution points. Our immediate recommendations are the need to expedite completion of admission facilities and the testing of everyone within hotspots and the scaling up of preventive measures,” said Dr Sibanda.

Speaking at the same meeting, Minister of Local Government and Public Works, who leads the provincial Covid-19 response team, Cde July Moyo said President Mnangagwa has since directed that all ministers who are assigned to provinces should interface with the provincial Covid-19 taskforce teams so that they can fully understand what is happening on the ground. He revealed that with the hotspots being identified in the city there was now a need to come up with specified lockdown measures to prevent the pandemic spreading to other areas. 

“Bulawayo and Harare are the epicentres of the upswing in the number of positive cases. Officials have told us that in the beginning, here in Bulawayo, the number of cases were more concentrated in the eastern suburbs but now it has moved to the western suburbs with Magwegwe West, Nkulumane, Emganwini and Cowdray Park being the hotspots.

“We are now working on modalities where after we see that there is a concentration of Covid-19 cases in one area, as the President announced, we will look at these particular localities so that we isolate and lock them down so the virus does not spread, in this case we are talking of the four suburbs that have been identified as the epicentre of this pandemic in the city,” said Cde Moyo.

He said the strategy they would adopt was that authorities, both administratively and political, will embark on an awareness campaign, informing people about the dangers of the pandemic.

“We have also noted that the transmission might not be local but be of border jumpers who interface with the communities; therefore, we encourage the communities to report such individuals,” he said.

Cde Moyo also took the opportunity to hand over food parcels that were sourced by President Mnangagwa meant for frontline staff in the city. Of the consignment 1 000 will go to Mpilo, 400 to UBH and 300 to Thorngrove.

Meanwhile, the Covid-19 deaths in the country are becoming worrisome as deaths are now being recorded almost on a daily basis. Last week saw seven people succumbing to the virus with four of them dying just in one day (Friday). 

Mpilo Central Hospital acting chief executive officer Professor Solwayo Ngwenya said it was important to test all patients upon admission in hospital, as opposed to testing bodies upon death.

“We are saying that people are dying and not knowing that they have Covid-19 and they are only tested when they are dead already. So, it means the relatives bringing in that person to seek treatment are not aware that the patient has Covid-19. So, the infection keeps on spreading. A person from a funeral parlour can handle a deceased’s body and he or she is not aware of the cause of death and they go on to another place to collect a body. It’s a problem and spreads infection too,” he said.

On Friday,172 cases tested positive for Covid-19 with 12 being returnees from South Africa, eight from Botswana and 152 locals who were isolated. Ninety of the local cases are contacts of known confirmed cases and investigations are underway to establish the source of infection for the remaining 62 cases, said the Ministry of Health and Child Care.  Sunday News


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