By Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu
More than 60 doctors and nurses at Mpilo Central Hospital are in isolation after testing positive to Covid-19, a development that has crippled health care service delivery at the hospital.
The bulk of the 63 health care workers that have tested positive at the hospital are nurses.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic last year in March, a total of 390 health care workers from Mpilo have tested positive to the deadly virus.
The latest infections were recorded over the past two weeks, a trend which Mpilo acting chief executive officer Professor Solwayo Ngwenya said is worrying.
Over the same two weeks Bulawayo recorded 2 190 new Covid-19 cases, the highest being on July 14 when 358 cases and a record 20 deaths were reported in a single day.
Statistics from the Ministry of Health and Child Care show that by Saturday, a total of 108 840 people had received their first Covid-19 vaccine while 62 323 had received their second jab in Bulawayo.
Prof Ngwenya said health care workers continue using personal protective equipment whenever at work but community transmissions were putting them at risk of contracting and succumbing to Covid-19.
“Since the beginning of this month 63 of our workers have tested positive and had to isolate at home to protect members of the public who seek services from our institution. Unfortunately, despite measures by the Government to ensure workers have adequate PPE, community transmissions are so high hence our workers are at risk as they use public transport and mingle with asymptomatic people who continue spreading the virus,” said Prof Ngwenya.
He said the high number of health care workers in isolation was affecting service delivery at the hospital which is now forced to operate with skeletal staff.
“We are living in difficult times and if this trend continues, we may see most of our workers testing positive because communities continue defying simple and life saving regulations. I do not know how many times we should remind people to stay at home, mask up and stop gathering. Sadly, our past days have been marked by funerals and soon we will be unable to cater for members of the public if they continue putting our lives at risk.”
Prof Ngwenya added that what is worryng now is that many people were now spreading and succumbing to Covid-19 without showing any symptoms.
“Our services are crippled at a time when we have a lot of people coming to Mpilo with suspected Covid-19 complications. If people continue defying measures, we will be unable to serve them and lives will be lost simply because they do not listen. May everyone remember that these are difficult times, we all have to mask up, wash hands and avoid travelling. Deaths and new cases are on the increase in Bulawayo,” he said.
Bulawayo City Council has warned that it might be forced to ban mourners from attending burials at cemeteries as funerals are becoming Covid-19 super spreaders.
The Government announced that not more than 30 people must attend funerals but it has been noted that most people are not adhering to this regulation.
Health experts last week identified funeral gatherings as Covid-19 superspreaders as residents continue defying guidelines, a situation which has resulted in an upsurge of deaths and new cases in Bulawayo.
Under the enhanced level 4 lockdown, Government has not just limited funeral gatherings to 30 people but has also banned overnight vigils. The Chronicle