COVID-19: “Zim will struggle to manage 50 cases”

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Corona Virus
Corona Virus

Tawanda Marwizi

The Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights has warned government not to allow the COVID-19 outbreak to get past 50 cases as the country’s health capacity would be overwhelmed resulting in fatalities.

In an interview, ZDHR secretary Dr Norman Matara said Zimbabwe does not have the capacity to manage several cases.

Zimbabwe has confirmed five cases and one death since the first case was reported in Victoria Falls early this month.

“We are just praying that we don’t reach 50 cases because if we get to those levels, it will be a total disaster in the country because our health system is at its lowest and we will be destroyed,” he said.

Matara, who is a medical practitioner operating in Harare but has a family which is based in Chinhoyi, said he was at home and could not risk going to work.

“Social distancing is the best solution because we have no capacity to contain this disease so we are working from home because at my surgery, I don’t have the equipment, you cannot buy it anywhere,” he said.

He said government had a lot to work on if they want to contain the spread of the disease.

“As doctors, we are at the frontline and we want protective clothes, risk allowances among other requirements. You have seen it in Italy that 14 percent of health workers were affected by the pandemic so our medical professionals cannot take the risk. The government has a long way to go,” he said.

He said Wilkins Hospital, the designated isolation and management health institution, is not equipped enough, he said.

Matara added that some candidates for isolation are being sent back home.

Health professionals who spoke to The Anchor confirmed that they have been referring candidates for testing but had not seen satisfactory responses from Wilkins Hospital.

“There is a patient who came at my surgery recently and that person was a proper candidate for quarantine and tests but we were told that there was no ambulance at Wilkins and the person wanted to assess the situation over the phone,” one source said.

A doctor interviewed from Kwekwe and had referred a patient was advised to issue a mask and let the patient use public transport to Harare.

“It was an embarrassing moment and I had to turn the patient away, because I am not trained to handle infectious diseases. We also have no protecting clothing as well,” he said.

The incapacitation of Wilkins hospital has made life difficult for people who are in provinces.

Most of the medical facilities and workers have gone home as a way of enforcing social distancing.

No comment could be obtained from government as health and child care minister Dr Obadiah Moyo’s mobile phone went unanswered.

However, the Harare City Council, which runs Wilkins and Beatrice Infectious Disease Hospital,  has requested funding from Treasury. Nothing, according to officials, has been received yet.

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