The Sunday News
Sunday News Reporters
THE Ministry of Health and Child Care has been forced to close Makwandara Clinic in Hwange District after all its clinical staff contracted Covid-19, as the country continues to battle increased new cases and deaths.
The hospital was closed on Thursday, as latest statistics showed that the country recorded 267 Covid-19 related deaths between Sunday and yesterday.
For the past month, the country has been recording a steady increase in Covid-19 cases and fatalities forcing the Government to react by instituting enhanced Level Four lockdown measures. Police said at least 6 000 people have also been arrested in just one week as citizens continue to defy lockdown measures which have resulted in a surge in the number of positive cases.
Hwange District Medical Officer, Dr Fungai Musinami told Sunday News yesterday that Makwandara Clinic which caters for communities in Magoli, Makwandara, Gurambira, Chezhou and Cross Dete was forced to close on Thursday after all the clinical staff tested positive for Covid-19.
“Yes I can confirm the development, however, it’s not like everyone tested positive, it’s the five who are clinical staff who tested positive,” said Dr Musinami.
Although the health centre is not the only facility in Hwange District whose staff tested positive, the number of cases has forced authorities to suspend operations.
“It’s not the only clinic whose staff have tested positive but at Makwandara a significant number of their staff tested positive so we couldn’t cover their duties. Measures taken such as suspending operations were taken while the staff is in self isolation.”
Dr Musinami said the development forced them to transfer expecting mothers to various facilities.
“We moved all the maternity mothers to Songwa and Lupote for their deliveries while the staff is recovering.
Processes such as fumigation of the premises were done. At the moment there are two people who are there so that they can redirect patients when they get to the clinic,” she said.
According to figures tabulated by Sunday News, in July alone, as of Saturday, the country had recorded 344 deaths. This has already surpassed last month’s figure where the country recorded 260 deaths.
The National Case fatality Rate now stands at 3,2 percent. This could be a repeat of the January scenario where at its peak during the second wave, the country at one point recorded 260 Covid-19 related deaths in just one week.
In terms of new cases, for the month of July, as at yesterday (Saturday) the country had recorded 15 632 new cases compared to 10 866 that were recorded in the entire month of June. According to the figures, Harare has the highest number of deaths at 106, followed by Mashonaland West which recorded 82 deaths while Midlands has third highest number of deaths after recording 53. Bulawayo has since the beginning of the month recorded 27 deaths, Matabeleland South eight deaths and Matabeleland North nine deaths.
In terms of new infections, since the beginning of the month Mashonaland West has the highest number at 3 268 followed by Mashonaland East which recorded 2 209 with Bulawayo having the third highest number of new infections after recording 2 202 cases. Harare has the highest incidence per capita followed by Bulawayo and Matabeleland South.
Commenting on the rise in new cases and deaths, health expert and Mpilo Central Hospital acting chief executive officer (CEO), Professor Solwayo Ngwenya said further drastic measures must be taken to curb the spread of the disease.
“I have already been telling people that the third wave will be big, massive and catastrophic. It is therefore not surprising that we are having large numbers of deaths. Those deaths are actually the tip of an iceberg because some patients are dying with Covid-19 symptoms but are found to be negative on testing,” said Prof Ngwenya.
He said the only way around the third wave was for people to adhere to all World Health Organisation protocols and the Government instituted lockdown measures.
“My advice to the general public is that they should exercise extreme caution because we are in a terrible situation, urgent action is needed, urgent change in the conduct of the public is needed and this complacent behaviour must end forthwith,” he said.
Prof Ngwenya revealed that Mpilo Central Hospital which is however, not a Covid-19 centre has since started admitting patients. He said the situation was so dire such that they had opted to create temporary structures to cater for the Covid-19 patients, which was not an ideal setup in treating the pandemic.
“The hospital is not coping, Mpilo is not a Covid-19 centre as you know. The centres were Thorngrove, United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) and Ekusileni. We, however, now have a buildup of patients as other centres cannot take in patients. Every day we have four or five patients needing admission. Currently we have 19 patients that need to be transferred to the designated Covid-19 isolation centres but they are saying they are full. We have been forced to care for them with very little resources because we were not declared a Covid-19 centre. We are seeing pregnant women that are coming that are Covid-19 positive and we have to care for them. So, we are really struggling,” he said.
Acting UBH CEO Dr Narcisius Dzvanga said they were also getting patients daily as more numbers of infected people were being recorded but lamented limited resources which have a direct impact on how many people can be admitted at a given time at their Covid-19 unit. Health officials said the local Covid-19 hospitals were filling up.
Police have also increased efforts to ensure that people adhere to lockdown measures announced by President Mnangagwa.
National police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said more than 6 000 people were arrested in just one week for contravening lockdown regulations. In Bulawayo alone, more than 100 people were arrested while 20 vehicles were impounded.
Bulawayo police spokesperson, Inspector Abedinico Ncube added that arrest in Bulawayo were for people who were mainly not wearing their masks properly.
“People were arrested for not wearing face masks and not wearing them properly, some were failing to comply with trade operation times while others were moving around after the curfew. It is worrying that people are disregarding the rules that have been set for their safety,” he said.
Two weeks ago, the Government announced that it has extended the re-opening of schools by two weeks but the move has been overtaken by the national lockdown which extends into this week when the decision was up for review. Director of Advocacy and Communication in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Mr Taungana Ndoro told Sunday News that the Ministry was engaging the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) to negotiate for cheap special data packages with mobile telephone operators as the education sector was going digital.
The plea comes after last week the country’s largest mobile operator Econet reviewed its voice and data bundle prices by about 20 percent , resulting in many people complaining that its services were now out of reach of the majority when most services including education are going digital. He said there was a need for all the players to note that the high tariffs were adversely affecting the education sector hence the need to come up with a data package specifically for students.
Report by Vusumuzi Dube, Robin Muchetu, Fairness Moyona, Melinda Ncube and Nonsikelilo Ndlovu