Harare is turning into epicenter of COVID-19 … doctors say city has only 30 intensive care beds
BY MOSES MATENGA
HARARE City Council said yesterday it was overwhelmed by the growing number of COVID-19 cases, which has made it the epicenter of the pandemic.
Acting Mayor Stewart Mutizwa said the city’s health system was overwhelmed as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to spiral out of control.
âAs I speak to you, our great city has become the country’s coronavirus epicenter as the numbers continue to climb beyond our control and that of an already overwhelmed health system,â Mutizwa said.
âWe had hoped that a new year might bring better expectations against the coronavirus and many of us relaxed and no longer practicing preventative measures.â
Harare has recorded more than 700 cases per day in recent weeks, with many people using oxygen and ventilators on social media as public and private health.
facilities fail to cope with the outbreak.
The country carried out a stricter lockdown from Tuesday as Information Secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana warned over the weekend that Zimbabwe would soon be overwhelmed by the virus.
The country had yesterday recorded 17,194 cases and 418 deaths, Tuesday alone recording 34 deaths and 1,365 new infections. Of Tuesday’s infections, 777 were from Harare, which also recorded 10 deaths.
Mutizwa said residents should act responsibly at times like these to curb the spread of the deadly disease.
Zimbabwe Association of Physicians for Human Rights (ZADHR) secretary-general Norman Matara said Harare’s public hospitals only had 30 intensive care beds.
âThe problem is that very few facilities admit patients with COVID-19 because the bed capacity is very low in public hospitals,â Matara told Al Jazeera news agency.
âThis means that patients requiring these services will die at home. The few private facilities admitting patients charge for an arm and a leg, âhe said, adding that there was a need to increase the bed capacity of public hospitals to meet the growing demand.
âWhen the Minister of Health (vice-president) Constantino Chiwenga, made his announcement, I think he insisted too much on the preventive side of things and did not focus on the curative side, the logistics of vaccines , how they will provide PPE (personal protective equipment) for frontline workers. A lockdown will slow infections after 30 days, but that’s not the solution, âsaid Matara.
In a statement, ZADHR said the growing number of healthcare workers infected with COVID-19 in the line of duty was worrying.
âOur conservative estimates indicate that 1,000 health workers are infected with COVID-19,â the doctors said while threatening legal action to force the government to use PPE.
The acting mayor of Harare also warned vendors and other informal traders against failing to comply with foreclosure regulations, saying, âThe city would like to warn vendors and other small and medium-sized businesses who have defied the government directive and are continuing. to operate the long arm of the law. will catch up with them and they should immediately stop all their operations.
âCarriers continue to use certain roads in the city, mainly those that do not pass through the central business district. These routes include Dzivarasekwa-Machipisa, Westgate-Warren Park, Machipisa-Chitungwiza and other local routes. I would like to urge transport operators to stop and consider the health of their fellow citizens before monetary gains. “
âOur frontline staff are already overwhelmed and let’s not overload them on purpose. Let us put small resources wisely by using them on deserving patients. We don’t want to see unlicensed suburban omnibus operators on our roads, evading law enforcement while spreading disease, âthe acting mayor said.
He added, âWe want people inside for the good of society and not for selfish reasons. On a related note, let me urge locals to stay indoors and help the country fight this disease. Together we can overcome this.
Mutizwa said the council was seizing the lockdown as an opportunity to clean up the city center which had seen piles of dirt in recent months.
Meanwhile, the government said yesterday it had used $ 7 billion to motivate and employ more health workers.
Speaking to reporters in Harare last night, Deputy Health Minister John Mangwiro said the money would also be used to purchase test kits, PPE, sundries and disinfectants, as well as for improve health infrastructure.
âThe government has accumulated S7 billion to motivate and employ more health workers, purchase test kits, sundries and PPE disinfectants, and improve infrastructure,â Mangwiro said.
âThe government is rolling out rapid antigen testing for symptomatic patients and this will go a long way in decongesting our emergency rooms and improving the triage process.
“The government has purchased 156,000 kits for the tests and these are being distributed across the country.”
Mangwiro said the number of deaths from COVID-19 through community transmission was concerning, hence the need for people to respect the lockdown currently in place to control the spread of the virus.
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