By Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu
Mpilo Central Hospital has recorded an alarming 74 Covid-19 cases over the past four days which left a nine-month-old baby and 14 staff members infected.
The infected staff members work at Mpilo’s Persons Under Investigation (PUI) ward for Covid-19 while others are from the National Tuberculosis Reference Laboratory where Covid-19 tests are conducted.
The rest are patients.
The development comes at a time when Bulawayo province is now accounting for more than 32 percent of the 620 new cases recorded in Zimbabwe during the same time.
One of the 74 people who had Covid-19 died on admission before his results were out. The nine-month-old baby has been referred to United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) for admission.
The Old Bartley Memorial Block at UBH is the only functional public designated Covid-19 centre where positive and symptomatic patients are admitted. Since the outbreak of the global pandemic in March this year, 314 Zimbabweans have died of Covid-19.
A total of 11 866 cases had been recorded in Zimbabwe by Thursday evening, with an average of 100 new Covid-19 cases being reported daily.
The country has a total of 1 796 active Covid-19 cases and 561 of these are in Bulawayo province followed by Matabeleland South, which has 289.
Since the beginning of the schools Third Term which ended yesterday, a total of 332 pupils have tested positive countrywide.
About 185 of those were from John Tallach High School in Matabeleland North while 10 were from Matopo High School in Matabeleland South.
In an interview, Mpilo acting chief executive officer Professor Solwayo Ngwenya said the virus now has its grip on communities which should deter people from dangerous health behaviours.
Prof Ngwenya said the PUI ward at Mpilo used for symptomatic patients who were awaiting results was filling up and soon public institutions would not be able to cope with increased new cases.
He also said the continuous increase in new cases was putting a strain on limited protective personal equipment (PPE) which health care workers use to protect themselves from infection.
Prof Ngwenya said the festive season-related travelling to countries like South Africa and the returning of Zimbabweans from the neighbouring country could worsen the situation as SA was a Covid-19 hotspot.
“We have recorded 74 positive cases in the last four days, 14 of them are staff members and the youngest affected is a 9-month-old baby. This should be a warning to my fellow countrymen. These figures are just a tip of an iceberg as there are lots of unreported cases still to be documented,” said Prof Ngwenya.
He said people should be careful, especially now that Zimbabweans working in SA are returning home to be with their families and relatives for the festive season.
“People should just avoid large gatherings such as parties, weddings and other such gatherings to save lives,” said Prof Ngwenya.
He however, said Mpilo’s figures do not mean that the hospital is a hotspot but it’s a reflection of the Covid-19 reality in communities.
“The infections are from the communities. These are people who are coming to the hospital infected thereby putting our health workers at risk,” said Prof Ngwenya.
He warned people intending to travel to rural areas, saying the virus has found its way to many rural communities which in the past had been Covid-19 free.
“The virus is now in the rural areas unlike in the past when it was mainly in urban areas. There are places in Mat North that are known Covid-19 hotspots like Nyamandlovu, St Luke’s and Ntabazinduna hence the need to spread the message to our rural people who have been relaxed ,” said Prof Ngwenya. The Chronicle