KWEKWE does not have adequate Covid-19 admission facilities, a disturbing development for a district which has been hit by an Indian variant of the coronavirus.
The strain arrived in Kwekwe after local businessman Robson Kadenhe died after contracting it from his granddaughter who had travelled from India in recent days. In a bid to curb the spread of the deadly variant which has ravaged the Asian country, the government put the district under a localised lockdown last week. However, the lockdown comes at a time when admission facilities are inadequate.
Health expert Dr Henry Madzorera, who was minister of Health during the Government of National Unity from 2009 to 2013, said the situation is scary in Kwekwe if the variant were to spiral out of control.
“Kwekwe is not prepared at all to handle a full blown Indian Covid-19 variant. We have no admission facility,” Dr Madzorera said.
Kwekwe has for the past two years been working on having an infectious disease hospital after turning a local beerhall into a hospital.
Mayor Angeline Kasipo says the facility, in Mbizo area, is not yet ready to handle admissions as renovations are still in progress.
“We converted Garandichauya into an Infectious Disease 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 is to be completed, “it’s very small and will not cope if we get many infections”.
Two major hospitals in the district, Kwekwe General Hospital and Silobela District Hospital, do not have adequate facilities in the event of a major outbreak. Since the death of Kadenhe, Kwekwe has so far registered 10 Covid-19 positive cases. Another facility earmarked for Covid-19, Bell Medical Centre in Redcliff, is also not prepared for admissions.
“Bell Medical Centre is not fully furnished,” Redcliff mayor Clayton Masiyatsva.
However, he said there is hope for the small mining town.
“We received our devolution funds last week and we hope to channel some of the funds to Bell,” he said.
Dr Madzorera said it is not only the lack of admission facilities which is proving challenging but also the unavailability of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health practitioners in Kwekwe.
“PPEs are not enough for our health practitioners here, while the health workers have not been properly trained. The health workers are still afraid of Covid-19 and they have a good reason to be afraid. Without proper protective equipment your chances of survival as a health worker are very, very, low,” he said.
Dr Madzorera said most Covid-19 fatalities result from a lack of oxygen.
“Most of the people who die of Covid-19 disease here in Kwekwe and elsewhere in Zimbabwe they only need oxygen supplementaries to keep them alive for three to four days while the body is building up immunity to fight the disease. Very few people need intensive care admission. So, we can save thousands of lives in the event of a major outbreak just by having admission facilities,” he said.
Madzorera added that the few patients who need intensive care unit can be transferred to Bulawayo or Harare. While the government has placed the district under lockdown it is business as usual.
In areas such as Silobela there is an information deficit.
“We have been raising awareness about Covid-19 in Silobela but it seems people do not really appreciate what it means. Villagers are not complying with World Health Organisation regulations on Covid-19 such as masking up, social distancing and sanitising, amongst others,” Silobela MP Mthokozisi Manoki Mpofu said.
He added that in his awareness campaigns he has ropped in traditional leaders. The government insists the localised Covid-19 lockdown is the way to go.
“The Indian variant was discovered in Kwekwe. It therefore becomes imperative that as we intensify our case investigation and contact tracing, we should take measures to ensure that the virus is not transported to other areas hence the localised lockdown,” Kwekwe district development coordinator Fortune Mupungu said. — STAFF WRITER
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