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Corona haunts Health workers

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Tarisai Machakaire

SENIOR STAFF WRITER

machakairet@dailynews.co.zw

HEALTH workers have raised fresh concerns about the coronavirus pandemic in the country, following more of their colleagues contracting the lethal disease in recent weeks.

Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, they also said inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE) at many public hospitals had the potential of making health workers significant spreaders of Covid-19 in the country.

This comes as the Health Services Board (HSB) has revealed that 11 health workers — including doctors and nurses — have succumbed to coronavirus so far, with 3 380 others having contracted the disease since it was first reported in the country in March last year.

Yesterday, the president of the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina), Enock Dongo, said nurses made up the bulk of health workers who had contracted Covid-19 and died from the disease due to inadequate PPE at public health institutions.

“If the rate of health personnel infections continues to go up, you are going to witness the closure of more health institutions.

“The rise in positive cases among health workers, and particularly nurses, has been because they are continuously being exposed to the disease.

“Health workers are now also spreading the disease. Look at a small hospital like Chinhoyi where 66 nurses were reported positive. Also look at Lupane and Jotsholo health care centres which were closed after 11 workers tested positive.

“You can imagine the scores of people that they had interacted with. Clearly if we continue like this we can forget about containing Covid-19,” Dongo told the Daily News.

This comes after Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital — which services Zvimba, Makonde, Hurungwe and Kariba districts — recorded 66 positive cases of health workers.

The hospital superintendent, Collet Mawire, attributed this to lack of PPE for frontline staff at the institution.

The secretary-general of the Senior Hospital Doctors Association (SHDA), Aaron Musara, said doctors were facing the same predicament as nurses.

He said doctors operating in green zones, which catered for hospital admissions for other ailments, were only being given goggles and masks, yet in some incidences their patients would later test positive for Covid-19.

“What is most worrying is the increase in the number of deaths of health workers. So far, eight doctors have died and five of them passed on in the last two weeks. There is no PPE and we are exposed.

“I am working in the green zone and recently had an accident patient who was brought for my attention, but later tested positive for Covid-19.

“It is important for responsible authorities to ensure that PPE is adequate, whether a health worker is in the red zone (where confirmed Covid-19 cases are admitted) or green zone,” Musara told the Daily News.

However, the government insisted yesterday that public health institutions were equipped to handle Covid-19 patients.

Health and Child Care public relations manager, Donald Mujiri, said the provision of PPE was a continuous effort — adding that the government, with support from donors, constantly reviewed the situation at health institutions.

“Is there a country which can say they have all equipment needed for everything, especially considering the new Covid-19 needs?

“All our public institutions continue to receive support from the central government and donors for any equipment that might be inadequate,” he said

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