HEALTH workers, especially nurses, are at a high risk of contracting Covid-19 pandemic due to the careless behaviour of members of the public who violate lock down rules and regulations.
This comes amid reports that 13 more Mpilo Central Hospital nurses have tested positive to Covid-19 and are part of the 60 cases which have been reported in Bulawayo.
Earlier this month, a nurse from the same institution tested positive to the global pandemic which led to Mpilo testing 197 health workers who were in contact with her and three patients who were positive.
The nurses have been put on isolation and Mpilo is yet to test more health workers who were in contact with the 13 as there are test kit challenges.
The world over, at least 90 000 health care workers had been infected by Covid-19 and more than 260 nurses had died by the end of May according to the International Council of Nurses (ICN).
As of Sunday, Bulawayo had 60 Covid-19 cases and two deaths while the national cumulative figure stood at 489 with six deaths.
According to the Bulawayo City Council, 26 of the cases that had been recorded in the city were from Hillcrest, Hillside, Kumalo, Emakhandeni, Cowdray Park, Pumula South, Nkulumane, Barbourfields, Lobengula West and Magwegwe suburbs.
The infected nurses are in isolation at their homes and Elangeni Training Centre and they are all constantly being followed up by the city health department.
In an interview, Minister of State for Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Cde Judith Ncube said it was worrying to note that health workers testing positive for Covid-19 were on the increase.
Minister Ncube said members of the public were deliberately exposing health workers to Covid-19 by illegally coming into the country without going through quarantine centres.
She urged members of the public to adhere to rules and regulations that had been laid down to control the spread of Covid-19.
“Thirteen of our nurses tested positive to Covid-19 and it’s mostly because of our reckless behaviour as residents. I know there are people who are sneaking into the country and by-passing quarantine measures that have been laid down and that exposes our health care workers,” said Minister Ncube.
“We should not allow anyone into our homes who would not have gone through quarantine as they will fall sick and end up in hospitals thereby endangering the lives of our health care workers.”
Minister Ncube said residents were reluctant to practise social distancing, which puts everyone at risk.
“I even appeal to supermarkets that they sanitise trolleys after every use because none of us is safe,” she said.
Minister Ncube appealed to the business community and private players to help the city source test kits which are in short supply.
“I appeal to our blessed business people and private companies to help us source test kits as we are having shortages. It is very important that we test as many people as possible so that we have a clear idea of where we stand as a city in terms of cases,” said Minister Ncube.
Medical practitioner Dr Khayelitsha Dube said nurses were more at risk to Covid-19 due to the longer periods they spend with members of the public in their day to day duties.
“We are more at risk because of the concentration of sick people that we interact with in our duties. What makes it more dangerous is the fact that most people may have Covid-19 but they do not know as they have not yet tested,” said Dr Dube.
He said doctors were also exposed but nurses were at a higher risk as they spent more time with patients compared to other health workers.
Mpilo acting chief executive officer Dr Solwayo Ngwenya said health workers were at higher risk of contracting Covid-19.
“We are intensifying our surveillance system by testing contacts here at the hospital and we will make sure that we will make PPE widely available for use by health workers,” said Dr Ngwenya.
“We have a peculiar situation where we have to warn people about the dangers of Covid-19 yet every morning we have to wake up and go care for patients some of whom have the virus.”
He said people must desist from treating Covid-19 as if its non-existent.
“I urge the public to be wary of the dangerous pandemic as cases may go up since we are in winter. People who have no serious business should remain at home at least until after the cold weather. Social distancing is necessary because we are witnessing worrying trends of people wearing masks but not practising social distancing,” he said.
Bulawayo Mayor Councillor Solomon Mguni said the city health department had managed to trace over 1 358 people who were in contact with 26 of the infected.
He said primary sources were tested and secondary sources were observed for Covid-19 symptoms.