Panic as health worker who tested positive for Covid-19 is spotted at shopping centre


A HEALTH worker who tested positive for Covid-19 violated self-isolation measures by roaming around the city, exposing residents to the deadly pandemic, a development that has seen authorities roping in the security services to ensure compliance.

Patient Number 15, who initially told the Bulawayo Rapid Response Team that she was a nurse, is a physiotherapist at a local hospital, it has emerged.

On Monday, the health worker tested positive for Covid-19 and was told to self-isolate at home as her condition is mild.

It is alleged that instead of self-quarantining at her home, the patient was spotted at Bradfield Shopping Centre by residents and there are times when surveillance teams could not find her at home.

The surveillance teams are yet to establish which other places she visited.

Her alleged behaviour exposed Bulawayo residents to Covid-19 which has claimed three people in the country and more than 115 000 globally.

A Covid-19 positive patient is expected to stay at home and adhere to self-isolation measures so that the virus does not spread.

Bulawayo City Council health services director Dr Edwin Sibanda said the local rapid response team was investigating her case after receiving information that she did not comply with lockdown measures.

He confirmed that Patient Number 15 violated self-isolation measures as she moved out of her residence.

Dr Sibanda said security forces have been roped in to ensure compliance with regulations.

“We have since communicated the same to Joint Operations Command (JOC) and JOC is going to take action starting tomorrow. If it is maintenance of a restriction order, they will take care of that. They have the means and the authority to do so and communication about all positive people and their need to be isolated home, they will assist us on that,” said Dr Sibanda.

“This is why we said we need to look at it together with the security officials. We are going to be looking at the Statutory Instrument that brought about the lockdown and see part of these things that need to be enforced or improved.”

Dr Sibanda said they will soon come up with a graphic illustration of where positive patients travelled to.

“We are yet to hear of how many visits she made if she made any and who she contacted during those visits. I’m not privy to how many people she visited but all what I know is that she is reported to have been found missing at her house by the surveillance team,” he said.

Dr Sibanda said after realising that some people were not complying with self-isolation regulations, they resolved to start admitting positive patients at Thorngrove Infectious Diseases Hospital.

The violation of the restriction order by the health worker comes at a time when Qalisa Retirement Village in Bulawayo has said it was cooperating with the local rapid response team to ensure all its residents are tested for Covid-19. The retirement village has so far recorded three positive cases.

One of them, Ian Hyslop, succumbed to the virus on April 4. The village is one of the places Government is targeting for mass testing. Qalisa Village chairperson Dr Catherine Hewitt, opening up for the first time to Chronicle, said all residents at the retirement home are ready to be tested for Covid-19. She said the retirement home remains on lockdown since March 26 to protect residents, most of whom who are fragile and vulnerable to Covid-19 due to their advanced ages.

“We limit traffic in and out of the village and asked all residents over 70 years not to go out of the gates, as they are the most vulnerable. We put in place systems which will assist the elderly to have groceries and medicines delivered, and bills paid. Should residents feel at all unwell, we discussed with them that they should call the resident doctor who will attend to them and then consult telephonically with their personal doctor,” she said.

Dr Hewitt said those needing medical treatment were now depending on the community’s in-house doctor who has been provided with protective clothing.

She said they were putting up all the necessary procedures to ensure that the second patient is well catered for.

“The patient has been part of the Qalisa lockdown since the 26th of March and when she exhibited symptoms. We completely isolated her in her home, with her only contact being the Qalisa doctor in full PPE. The Qalisa doctor, in consultation with her specialist physician, attends to her twice daily and as needed, ensuring she is fully protected in PPE. In addition, there is a telephone roster where her family phones her every three hours and her food is sanitised and delivered to her door,” she said.

Dr Hewitt said Qalisa Retirement Village was alive to the fact that Covid-19 was an emerging disease which might mutate on a daily basis hence the need to constantly engage Government on its management.

She said she will not comment on negligence levelled against the village management by the Hyslop family.

— Chronicle

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