A NURSE at a local hospital is among the three new Covid-19 positive cases confirmed on Monday and investigations are underway to establish how she got the virus since she had no recent history of travel or known contact with a confirmed case.
The nurse, only identified as case number 15, is a 34-year-old female resident of Bulawayo.
According to the Ministry of Health and Child Care, the patient had no recent history of travel or known contact with a confirmed case but her case was picked during a routine screening procedure.
Her positive tests were confirmed at the National Tuberculosis (TB) Reference Laboratory at Mpilo Central Hospital which is working in conjunction with the National University of Science and Technology’s (Nust) Applied Genetic Testing Centre (AGTC).
Bulawayo’s Covid-19 positive cases have increased to five while the national figure stands at 17 including three deaths.
Patient 15’s case remains a puzzle.
Bulawayo City Council (BCC) health services director Dr Edwin Sibanda, said the patient is a nurse but refused to disclose the hospital she works from.
Dr Sibanda said the provincial health workers are still tracing her contacts in order to establish who she might have contracted the virus from.
“She is a health worker in one of our local hospitals but we cannot disclose much on her at the moment and where she works as we don’t want to cause unnecessary alarm. We are following up on her contacts while she is self-isolating at home. We are also yet to communicate with the relevant officials regarding her case,” said Dr Sibanda.
He said as a nurse, it does not necessarily follow that she got the virus from her work place.
Dr Sibanda, however, admitted that the case brings to the spotlight concerns raised over protective clothing for health care workers.
“Obviously the issue of PPE is of paramount importance. But we have to be clear that health workers are not just exposed when they are in their work stations. They can be exposed at home. The virus just like HIV or TB can infect the health workers outside their work stations,” said Dr Sibanda.
He said the nurse had not been in contact with a 79-year-old man, Ian Hyslop, who lived at Qalisa Retirement Village before his death at Mater Dei Hospital, making him the first person to succumb to the virus in the city.
Dr Sibanda said during yesterday’s local rapid response team meeting, it was resolved that everyone living at Qalisa should be tested.
124 people live at that home.
“We actually discussed that issue in our today’s morning meeting. That we should consider testing everyone staying at Qalisa.
“We also discussed the issue of disinfecting the place but it’s something that we are yet to finalise on,” said Dr Sibanda.
He said they cannot quantify in terms of funds, how much would be required to conduct each test and disinfecting the village as Government is always providing the resources for the processes.