Covid-19 update: 18 health workers test positive in Zimbabwe

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EIGHTEEN health personnel working in the same ward at the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) have tested positive for Covid-19 after allegedly attending to an infected patient.

The hospital staff members were placed on self-isolation at home after a male adult admitted to the hospital tested positive for Covid-19. The exact number of health workers who came into contact with him was not immediately availed but results of 18 of them came positive after tests.

Recently, 68 health workers at the hospital were forced to self-isolate at home after a 79-year old woman who tested positive died at the referral facility, but their status could not be established immediately.

Last month, 14 nurses at Mpilo Central Hospital who were part of 197 isolating at home tested positive for Covid-19 after coming into contact with patients who were coronavirus positive.

Acting UBH chief executive officer Dr Narcissus Dzvanga yesterday said the hospital has activated its infection control prevention unit after the latest Covid-19 confirmed cases.

“At the moment the figure that has been sent to me is that 18 have tested positive for Covid-19. We are still categorising them although some are student nurses, general practitioners and nurse aids,” said Dr Dzvanga.

He said the health workers tested positive while they were self-isolating at home.

Dr Dzvanga said they contracted the virus after coming into contact with a patient who had come to the hospital for treatment after he was paralysed after being injured.

“We have a screening process that is done at the entrance of the hospital. So, if you got any features or temperatures are within Covid-19 classification, you don’t even go beyond the screening point. But this case had different circumstances altogether. The index case is a young man who got injured while trying to carry a 50kg bag of maize and got paralysed. There was no direct finding of Covid-19 at presentation. But when we started to test the patient routinely that is when it was picked. The staff that you are talking about are from the same ward where he was admitted. It’s not like he was moving up and down the hospital,” said Dr Dzvanga.

Acting UBH chief executive officer Dr Narcissus Dzvanga

However, officials at the hospital suspect that the patient could have also contracted the virus while at the medical institution.

A source said there was a likelihood that a health worker unknowingly infected the patient with the virus.

“This patient has been at the hospital for almost two months and I doubt if he could not have been identified had he carried the virus all that long.

“This could be a case of an asymptomatic health worker who didn’t know that they had the virus attending to him and infecting him with Covid-19,” said the source.

In line with Covid-19 prevention measures to minimise the risk of local transmissions, Cabinet recently resolved that all positive patients be placed in an isolation facility as some people were not adhering to procedures while at home.

On Tuesday, the country recorded 53 new Covid-19 cases and the 18 UBH cases are part of the 34 local transmissions recorded on that day. The remaining 19 cases were of people coming from South Africa (16) and Botswana (3).

This was the first time that the country recorded more local transmissions than imported cases.

Most of the people who had been testing positive for Covid-19 in Zimbabwe were those returning home from South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, the United Kingdom, the United States among other countries.

— Chronicle


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