ACTING Information minister, Jenfan Muswere, yesterday likened Zimbabwe’s raging and deadlier second wave coronavirus storm as a war — amid the country’s soaring deaths and infections.
Speaking to the Daily News On Sunday, the concerned Muswere also described the global pandemic as “one of the worst diseases in the history of the country”.
“During the burial of Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba and Cde Morton Malianga, President Emmerson Mnangagwa indeed highlighted that this is a deadly war facing us as a nation, requiring us to unite against the pandemic.
“To us, this disease is, for sure, like a war, after the First and Second Chimurenga, the 1970s liberation war.
“The key to our success against the pandemic is to follow health and security protocols to stay at home, mask up, sanitise, and practice social distancing,” Muswere told the Daily News On Sunday.
Indeed, such has been the devastating effect of the lethal virus that hospitals are now struggling to deal with the high numbers of patients battling the deadly respiratory disease, requiring admission.
In addition to being unable to take more patients, stretched private hospitals are also charging hefty fees which are beyond the reach of the majority — with some of them demanding anything between US$1 500 and US$10 000 upfront from patients for admissions only (see story below).
This comes as coronavirus has so far claimed the lives of four government ministers, with many more said to bed-ridden in hospitals.
Ths second wave coronavirus drumfire has deepened since the turn of the New Year, with the global pandemic’s local death toll now fast approaching the 1 000 mark.
Yesterday, medical experts revealed that the country’s hospitals — both public and private — no longer had the capacity to admit more Covid-19 patients due to shortages of beds.
The secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR), Norman Matara, was among those who revealed to the Daily News On Sunday that hospitals no longer had the capacity to admit more patients.
“ZADHR notes with concern the limited capacity of local health facilities to accommodate cases that need treatment. Public hospitals are under strain due to shortages of beds and equipment.
“The continued surge in new infections has caused the hospitals to be overwhelmed and fail to cater for the increased number of Covid-19-related hospital admissions.
“The increase in cases has put more pressure on the beds we have. We also need to increase our resources because cases are now increasing.
“People are looking for beds on social media because there is a serious shortage,” Matara told the Daily News On Sunday.
The president of the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina), Enock Dongo, also warned that the situation in hospitals was now critical, as most of these facilities were now failing to admit new patients.
“Government underrated Covid-19. They did not prepare and now there is a serious shortage of beds. Some hospitals have beds, but are without proper equipment like ventilators.
“Our work is now difficult because of the situation in hospitals. The issue of oxygen is also a problem … and this is also affecting our work. We are worried the government didn’t prepare for this.
“We are also concerned that the government is just deploying nurses to work at Covid-19 centres without training them,” Dongo told the Daily News On Sunday.
The national chief Covid-19 co-ordinator in Mnangagwa’s office, Agnes Mahomva, also observed that the rising coronavirus cases had put a huge strain on hospitals — but added that the situation was not peculiar to Zimbabwe.
“If you look globally … there is no single country that can say that they have the capacity to do all things that are required by Covid-19, but each country can look and do what is necessary to make sure beds are enough.
“There is no single country that I have heard saying they have the capacity to deal with the surge as we speak.
“We are making sure that whatever resources that we have like beds, we are maximising, utilising and prioritising them,” Mahomva told the Daily News On Sunday.
She also said authorities were focusing on curbing the spread of the killer virus as part of efforts to avoid mass admissions at hospitals.
“This is why you keep hearing us talking about prevention because we don’t want lots of cases waiting for admission in hospitals.
“If you prevent it, you don’t get huge numbers of people who want to be admitted. There is no single country that has that capacity,” Mahomva added.
Amid the soaring numbers of cases needing hospitalisation, it has also emerged that most hospitals continue to experience shortages of medical oxygen.
United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) chief executive officer, Narcicious Dzvanga, said on Thursday that they were among the hospitals experiencing medical oxygen shortages, at a time that the hospital had many Covid-19 admissions.
“Our major crisis at the moment is oxygen. BOC Zimbabwe gases which supplies us is having to outsource, as they are facing all sorts of problems with Zesa.
“We have a bulk tank that can take 10 000kg, but they came on Saturday and gave us 4 000kg — which is already finished. Covid is about oxygen.
“Once you are that sick to require hospitalisation, the therapy for Covid is oxygen, and if it’s not there, say your prayers,” Dzvanga said.
In addition to being needed to aid seriously ill Covid-19 patients, medical oxygen also provides a basis for virtually all modern anaesthetic techniques, and to aid resuscitation, provide life support for artificially-ventilated patients and to promote cardio-vascular stability.
It is also used to restore tissue oxygen tension by improving oxygen availability in a wide range of conditions that include shock, severe hemorrhage, carbon monoxide poisoning, major trauma, cardiac and respiratory arrest, as well as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) — a group of lung conditions that cause breathing difficulties.
It has been observed in the United Kingdom (UK), for example, that for hospitalised patients with Covid-19 who require high levels of supplemental oxygen, it is life-saving in about 80 percent of the cases.
On Friday, Transport and Infrastructure Development minister Joel Biggie Matiza became the fourth minister to succumb to Covid-19, after Wednesday’s death of Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo, as well as last week’s demise of Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Ellen Gwaradzimba, and last July’s of Lands and Agriculture minister Perrance Shiri.
Moyo, became an instant celebrity when he announced live on State television the stunning November 2017 military coup which ousted from power the late former president Robert Mugabe.
He was also the husband of the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc), Justice Loice Matanda Moyo.
The spiralling cases of Covid-19 in the country have triggered calls for the government to expedite processes to bring in much-needed vaccines.
The raging pandemic has seen the country being put under a stiffened lockdown, including a dusk-to-dawn curfew, which authorities hope will help to curb the spread of the disease locally.
The re-imposed curfew means that people are prohibited from being out and about between 6pm and 6am, except for those providing essential services.
In addition, the operations of all businesses — except those providing essential services — were also once again suspended for 30 days, as authorities battled to curb the spread of the lethal disease.