The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Reporter
THE Beautiful Bulawayo Trust, a committee formed to spearhead the fight against coronavirus (Covid-19) in the city has been given one week to set up a testing and isolation centre after it emerged yesterday that Bulawayo has no such facility.
Thorngrove Infectious Disease Hospital which had been earmarked to cater for Covid-19 cases in the city is still undergoing renovations and in the event of a reported case in the city, the patient has to be transferred to Harare for isolation.
The revelations were made by the Minister of Local Government and Public Works, Cde July Moyo at a Press conference after a meeting between a delegation from the Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on Covid-19 and members of the Trust last night.
The Trust is made up of various people from Bulawayo, ranging from academics to industrialists, who have come together to raise funds to help establish Ekusileni Medical Centre as a national Covid-19 isolation centre. Cde Moyo said the Trust has handed over a working document to the Ministerial Taskforce, which would be presented to President Mnangagwa.
“We will hand over this document to the President for deliberation but noting the situation which we are in at the moment, we have given the Trust a week to become operational of which they have assured us that they will be in a position to admit their first patient, if any, in the next week.
“They have said they will start with a carrying capacity of 50, as the 50 beds are already available but the capacity is to go up to 200 but what the people of Bulawayo have said is that depending on the intensity of this coronavirus they think it is necessary to have a 600-bed capacity in the whole Metropolitan Province,” said Cde Moyo.
He said Bulawayo did not have an isolation centre in case of an outbreak.
“In terms of testing there is equipment at the National University of Science and Technology and at Mpilo Hospital. We are in the process of combining these so we can do the testing here locally. I understand in Bulawayo we currently have the rapid testing equipment but it is not complete, so they have not started testing, therefore testing is at the moment only being done in Harare where samples from all corners of the country are sent,” said Cde Moyo.
Early in the week, Sunday News sent written questions to the local authority’s spokesperson, Mrs Nesisa Mpofu who revealed that the local authority required US$300 000 for the complete refurbishment of Thorngrove hospital to be able to house Covid-19 cases.
“A third or less would make the hospital able to admit the first 50 patients comfortably,” said Mrs Mpofu.
Also present at the Press briefing were Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Professor Paul Mavhima, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology Development, Prof Amon Murwira and the Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Mangaliso Ndlovu.
Meanwhile, the Government has directed that all council and privately-owned clinics and hospitals will fall under the direct jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health and Child Care as the country tries to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
This comes amid revelations that 21 health facilities have been identified to be turned as Covid-19 testing centres in Bulawayo, 19 of which are council-owned clinics.
“This all is done to ensure co-ordination and monitoring, so that we are able to win this war as a team,” said Cde Moyo.
Cde Moyo further revealed that the Ministerial Taskforce was now actively involved in the mapping exercise where Covid-19 test sites in all districts are being identified.
“Right now, the numbers are few but we must not relax because we have not yet tested a lot of people, so when the testing increases, we might face challenges, which is why we are here as ministers to work on this mapping exercise. I am especially happy that people of Bulawayo are also working hard being led by the Provincial Affairs Minister Cde Judith Ncube ,” said Cde Moyo.