THERE was panic at Chitungwiza Central Hospital when the Casualty Section had to be temporarily closed over suspected COVID-19 case.
The suspected case which has since been confirmed to be negative after tests was of a woman who could not be identified by this publication who had consumed poison on April 17.
The woman who has since died had indicated to medical personnel attending to her that she had COVID-19 and UK travel history which led to nurses and doctors deserting the casualty section for several hours waiting for the section to be fumigated.
The woman died the next day and spent close to 12 hours in the emergency room as staff at the hospital was afraid to handle the case.
Chitungwiza Central Hospital CEO Dr Enock Maida confirmed the scare and temporary closure of casualty section.
“I do not know what happened in the taking of history of the patient when it ended up with speculation of COVID-19.
“The patient was unconscious when she came and never said anything. There could have been hallucinations by the patients on Covid-19 since she also has two children in the UK.
“So along the way we do not know where the COVID-19 came about but all our staff members had to take precautionary measures leading to the closure of the section which was temporarily moved to the outpatients section,” Dr Maida said.
He said normal operations resumed the next day after all safety measures had been conducted.
“The section was fumigated and swabs were taken for tests to Sally Mugabe Central Hospital where they came out negative.
“Her close contacts who include her daughter and husband also had tests done and they were negative.”
A nurse at the institution said there was talk of COVID-19 when the patient came for treatment prompting medical staff to desert the section.
“It is worrying that the woman got to the casualty section without being checked and we were all exposed to this COVID-19 danger. We are worried because we were in contact with the patient,” said a nurse who spoke to this publication.
The nurse said the hospital then took swabs which were sent for testing and they were just told by the matron that the deceased had tested negative to COVID-19.
“It seems some doctors who admit patients are afraid to suddenly change after admission that the patient has to be taken to Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital.
“The doctors might have their fears of not being able to contain the blame for exposing the medical staff to COVID-19 after transferring the patients,” the nurse added.
A doctor who also spoke to this publication said the indication of COVID-19 by the patients had sent shivers to many medical staff on duty that no one could attend to the patient.
“The patient was a 60-year-old woman who came around 6pm and died around 8pm in the casualty department.
“We were all afraid. Although the woman had taken poison, we got afraid when she said she had COVID-19.
“The medical staff left the casualty department as they feared for their lives,” said the doctor who preferred anonymity.
Meanwhile, doctors at the hospital have raised concern over screening exercise at the gate that saw a patient making it into the casualty section without being properly checked.
“How did the patient end up in casualty? What happened to the two screening points?” one doctor asked.
Another doctor said checking for temperature was not enough considering how deadly the disease was.
“Maybe our screening is not effective.
“We’ve complained that the screening isn’t effective but who listens?
“We are using temperature check and brief history before admitting patients.
“I think the best is for people to treat every patient as a potential COVID-19 case because anyone can lie at the gate to avoid being flagged at the gate as a potential case,” the doctor said.
Dr Maida said they were using the Ministry of Health and Child Care’s guidelines to screen all people who come to the hospital.
“We are following set guidelines which include social distancing, thorough washing of hands using soap, temperature testing using infrared thermometers and capturing of history before people get into the hospital.
“We have correct PPE worn for different workstations and if one is suspected he or she is immediately taken to the isolation tent as further investigations are conducted,” Dr Maida said.