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Kwekwe hit by health vehicle shortage as Covid-19 cases spiral

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KWEKWE, currently under a Covid-19 lockdown which has run for a month, is battling to contain spiralling infection cases, resulting in the extension of the lockdown initially introduced on 25 May.

The city was put under lockdown following the discovery of the Indian variant of the coronavirus.

The situation in Kwekwe has been worsened by limited resources including a shortage of vehicles in the health department and non-admission of critical Covid-19 patients.

Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa, in announcing the extension of the Kwekwe lockdown this week, said the city now has more than 70 Covid-19 cases.

While the health authorities in Kwekwe were not immediately available to provide current statistics, a senior nursing official said most of the Covid-19 cases were detected in schools.

Local Covid-19 committee chairperson Vitalis Kwashira was not immediately available with the statistics as he said he was in a meeting in Harare before referring inquiries to Kwekwe City Council health director Mary Muchekeza who said she was not authorised to comment.

However, speaking in a full council meeting last week, the assistant director of health nursing services for Kwekwe district, Patricia Shumba, told councillors that schools were proving to be hotspots.

“We have parents who tested positive and this led us to go to schools for testing their families and fellow students. The situation is not looking good,” she said.

“We have been doing a series of tests in district schools and at Chiedza Primary School in Old Mbizo we tested 65 individuals and recorded one positive case. At Ruvimbo Primary we tested 95 people and recorded six positive cases. At Maryward Schools we managed to test 52 individuals and we recorded seven positive cases. At Maryward we managed to carry out contact tracing and discovered 56 cases and 23 were positive. We are still unaware whether the positive cases are Indian variant cases or not. We are yet to receive index sample results from South Africa,” she said.

The Covid-19 situation, according to Shumba, has been compounded by vehicle shortages.

“We have one vehicle which does all the duties from maternity to Covid-19 tracing. It is hampering our operations. You find that we have cases we are monitoring in Mbizo, farming areas that need to be monitored, but we do not have enough resources,” she said.

The situation is hampering reliable tracing and testing as the vehicle has suffered breakdowns.
Kwekwe City ambulances were impounded by Zimra two years ago.

Former Health minister Dr Henry Madzorera said the lockdown in Kwekwe exists only in name.

“We gather that the number of cases in Kwekwe are increasing particularly in certain schools in Mbizo and Amaveni, but we do not have figures; the authorities must give us figures. The way forward is to strengthen the measures which we have been implementing such as masking up and social distancing. The measures are more important than lockdowns; lockdowns do not achieve anything,” he said.

“The current lockdown which we have in Kwekwe is not a lockdown at all. When we look at the lockdown measures, it is only the churches which have been locked down. Beerhalls and other drinking spots have been operating. It’s business as usual in Kwekwe.”

Kwekwe councillor Maclean Nyamucherera, making a contribution in a council meeting, said there is a need to increase Covid-19 testing.

“There are no testing kits so far, that is the truth and no resources to facilitate proper testing and tracing, but we call upon Mayor (Angeline) Kasipo to ensure that places of gathering like market areas and informal trading points are regulated,” said Nyamucherera.

Kwekwe’s localised lockdown is coming at a time when the Midlands city is dogged by inadequate patient admission facilities.

For the past two years, the city has been working on having an infectious diseases facility after turning a local beerhall into a hospital.

The facility, located in Mbizo area, is not yet ready to handle admissions as it is still incomplete, according to the mayor.

“We converted Garandichauya into an Infectious Diseases Hospital. The hospital is almost complete, we are at 95% completion, we only need some furnishings,” Kasipo said.

However, she revealed that even if the facility were to be completed, “it’s very small and will not cope if we get the huge numbers.”

The two major health centres, Kwekwe General Hospital and Silobela District Hospital, do not have adequate facilities in the event of a major outbreak.— STAFF WRITER.

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