Covid-19 hits Parirenyatwa, as doctors give strike notice  

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Senior Staff Writer  
IN A major blow to the country’s public health sector, 70 staff members at Parirenyatwa Hospital’s coronavirus treatment centre have tested positive for the lethal disease, the Daily News on Sunday reports.
The hospital said at the weekend that the increase in the number of health workers testing positive for the virus in the country indicated the desperate need for an improved management of Covid-19.
This comes as Zimbabwe’s confirmed coronavirus cases have reached 2 296, with 32 deaths.
“For the period from 9 June 2020 when the centre opened up to 25 July 2020, 60 Covid-19 positive patients have been admitted.
“For the period under review, 70 staff members have tested positive for Covid-19, of which 64 are from non-Covid-19 areas, while six work directly in the Covid-19 Centre.
“We have recorded eight deaths out of the 60 patients who were admitted in the red zone. Of the bodies that were brought in dead, 13 tested positive for Covid-19,” the hospital said.
Meanwhile, doctors have given the government a two-week strike notice, demanding a review of their salaries and adequate supplies of personal protective equipment against the coronavirus.
In a letter to the Health Services Board (HSB), the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) said junior doctors had for the past month been working with the hope that the government would address the lack of adequate PPE and poor remuneration.
However, all indications were that the government was not committed to addressing these issues.
“As the ZHDA, we feel that it is now time that the employer takes these life-threatening concerns seriously.
“We hereby engage the employer to address these chronic issues, including that the remuneration of health workers should be urgently looked into and that Covid-19 allowances are reviewed to meaningful figures in a stable currency.
“Personal protective equipment must be readily available upon request, and a framework to support infected health workers — including a self-isolation allowance, medicines and food must be put in place with immediate effect.
“Should the employer fail to address these issues within 14 days of receipt of this letter, the ZHDA and its members will be forced to suspend operations at public health institutions,” ZHDA said.
All this comes as authorities have said that they have deployed more security forces around the country, to force compliance with Covid-19 regulations, including the recently imposed dusk to dawn national curfew.
It also comes as there are growing concerns that ever more urban commuters will violate the new curfew orders unintentionally, due to shortages of adequate transport to carry them to and from their residences.
Speaking in Harare on Friday, police commissioner-general Godwin Matanga warned that security forces would deal firmly with members of the public who violated lockdown regulations.
In addition, he said, operators of shebeens and other outlets that sell alcohol illegally also risked going to jail for their activities — which he warned would not be tolerated by authorities.
At the same time, Matanga also revealed that between Tuesday and Wednesday last week, police had arrested 2 654 people for contravening Covid-19 national lockdown regulations, including not wearing face masks.
He also said authorities were still grappling with people escaping from quarantine centres despite police having arrested 300 people for the offence so far.
This comes after the government imposed the new dusk to dawn curfew — under which those working in areas deemed as non-essential are expected to leave towns at 3pm and be at their residences by 6pm.
However, the curfew has coincided with a debilitating fuel crisis in the country, which has seen most filling stations which sell their products in the local currency going without petrol and diesel.
The transport shortages have left commuters in urban areas across the country in dire straits after the grounding of Zupco and other buses mandated to transport them under the current heightened national coronavirus lockdown.

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