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Covid-19 victim’s family speaks out – ‘Utter carelessness and ignorance’

By Mashudu Netsianda/Nqobile Tshili

The family of Ian Hyslop (79), a Bulawayo man who recently died of Covid-19, has come out guns blazing, accusing doctors and Qalisa Retirement Village management of “utter carelessness and ignorance.”

The late Ian Hyslop
The late Ian Hyslop

Hyslop who became the 11th patient to test positive for Covid-19 in the country and the first in Bulawayo, was posthumously confirmed to have succumbed to the virus on Tuesday last week, making him the second person to die in the country.

He was a resident at Qalisa Retirement Village.

In a statement, the deceased’s daughter, Ms Sharon Fury said they decided to talk about the events that led to their father’s death “out of genuine concern for all Zimbabweans.”

She accused the doctors of negligence including the chairperson of Qalisa Retirement Village, Ms Catherine Hewitt and her entire management of ignoring their father’s plea to leave the village so that he could be attended to by his own doctor.

“Out of genuine concern for all Zimbabweans, we wish to share the following account of our father’s untimely death in the hope we might just save one life. Our father Ian Hyslop (79) was examined by his Bulawayo doctor on the afternoon of Wednesday, March 25, specifically as we felt he needed to see a doctor as he was suffering troubling flu symptoms.

“Thereafter, in the days leading up to his death on Saturday, April 4, we believe he was examined by two local general practitioners with utter carelessness and ignorance,” said Ms Fury.

“As a family, we cannot understand how two doctors, if not three, fully aware the lockdown due to Covid-19, did not once consider him to be a typical case and hospitalise him on March 25 or at least March 31 when he clearly needed to be. As a result, there is no other way of describing them but careless, ignorant and negligent medical practitioners.”

Qalisa residents have been placed under lockdown after the death of fellow resident Ian Hyslop who died from coronavirus
Qalisa residents have been placed under lockdown after the death of fellow resident Ian Hyslop who died from coronavirus

She said Ms Hewitt and the entire management at Qalisa Retirement Village must take full responsibility for “illegally preventing” the deceased from leaving the complex to see his preferred doctor when the need arose during the lockdown period.

“We make this claim based on the fact the chairwoman and management of Qalisa Retirement Village where our father resided with his 77-year-old partner decided he would not be permitted to leave the village even if he wanted to have his own doctor attend to him from March 26.

“This illogical decision was implemented by the village’s management, simply because he was over 70 years of age in complete disregard of Statutory Instrument 83 of 2020 covering Covid-19 lockdown regulations,” said Ms Fury.

She said the family was only informed that their father had the coronavirus late on April 7 since the sample was collected before a weekend as there was no transport to take it to Harare, where all laboratory tests were at the time being conducted.

Ms Fury also gave a detailed account of what transpired when her father visited Ganda Lodge in Hwange between March 14 and 16 and his visit to a doctor on March 25 after he experienced troublesome flu symptoms and his death.

“Due to misinformation and incorrect dates reported concerning dad’s diagnosis and confirmation he had been infected with the Covid-19 disease, we feel it is vitally important to provide the accurate information….Dad spent between March 14 and 16 at Ganda Lodge in Hwange, which is frequented by overseas tourists and the Ministry of Health (and Child Care) says there were no other guests at the lodge during the same period.

“On March 21, dad was visited by a friend who was from the United Kingdom and on March 25, my sister who resides in Bulawayo booked an appointment for dad to see his doctor in the afternoon after informing us he was suffering from troublesome flu symptoms (cough, sore throat and a slight temperature),” she said

Ms Fury said following his doctor’s appointment, the now-deceased told her sister, Glenda that the doctor checked him and said he had a bit of bronchitis and that his throat was fine before he prescribed a bacterial antibiotic for him.

She said upon contacting Qalisa’s resident doctor to make an enquiry following his father’s admittance to Mater Dei Hospital, the woman was “extremely rude” to her and only told her that he had a chest infection and was fine.

“She refused to provide any further information, despite the knowledge I was his daughter calling from Australia, saying it was a confidential matter. I asked how my dad got to Mater Dei, to which she told me emphatically that she didn’t have to disclose them to me, citing patient confidentiality,” she said.

“It’s shameful. We have lost the love of our lives. He didn’t deserve to be subjected to these tragic circumstances.”

Ms Hewitt declined to comment on the issue.

“I have no comment and as Qalisa we have no comment. Thank you,” she said before she hung up her phone.

Bulawayo City Council health services director Dr Edwin Sibanda said the local rapid response team cannot be blamed as most of the developments regarding the case occurred in a private residence.

“The most important thing is that all that management and everything that occurred was outside the health system and more so, it was their private practitioner right up to Mater Dei Hospital. It was only at that point that we were called in and I don’t think we had any role as council until we were invited during which it was already too late,” he said.

Dr Sibanda said they only got involved through the collection of specimens on Friday before Hyslop’s death the following day.

He said local health experts have since located some of the people who got in contact with the deceased prior to his death.

“We have done the index case tree and this had led us to right up to Matabeleland North and other people from the city. This is where the man from the United Kingdom comes in and it seems he is the source of the infection. He is also linked to the second case,” said Dr Sibanda.

He however, said not everyone at Qalisa was now a suspect.

“We are looking at the list and the possible contacts and we are still following up. As the tests are coming in, we are evaluating them. We have tested the doctor who was attending to the patients, we have tested all three doctors and results have come back negative.” The Chronicle