THERE is panic and confusion in most local public health centres as more Covid-19 frontline staff continue to test positive for Covid-19 while the relevant authorities are doing little to provide them with personal protective equipment (PPEs).
The Covid-19 crisis has been worsened by returning residents who are escaping from quarantine centres before getting tested for the novel virus and infecting relatives on arrival home.
The situation has also been compounded by people who die from other ailments, but after random tests are carried out, they also test positive of Covid-19.
All this is happening when the majority of nurses in public hospitals have been on strike for the past two weeks demanding better salaries and working conditions, including PPEs.
Their colleagues at the Harare City Council-run Wilkins and Beatrice infectious hospitals have also downed tools while making similar demands.
The situation at the Beatrice Infectious Diseases Hospital has been worsened after eight nurses who are part of the skeletal staff still reporting for duty, are reported to have tested Covid-19 positive Friday.
On Thursday, a nurse based at the hospital and one at Edith Opperman Clinic in Mbare, another City of Harare-run clinic, also tested positive to coronavirus, bringing the total figure to 10.
Zimbabwe Urban and Rural Council Nurses Workers Union (ZURCNWU) president Simbarashe Tafirenyika confirmed the cases.
“Today (Friday), we witnessed our members testing Covid-19 positive meaning to say the deadly disease is now in our own territory, and as health care providers we are at risk,” he said.
“The world is currently in a state of war. A war without guns and bullets. A war without human soldiers. A war without borders. It is coronavirus also known as Covid-19.”
NewZimbabwe.com contacted Harare City health director Prosper Chonzi who promised to call back later, but did not return the call.
However, according to Tafirenyika, council nurses are living in fear and most of them last Tuesday, downed their tools in protest the authorities are not providing them with the necessary protective clothing.
He said council nurses were forced to wear N95 masks for seven days and surgical masks for three days yet these masks are supposed to be worn only once.
Tafirenyika also accused the Harare City Council of hiding information to staff members on what was happening at the health centres.
“The local authority has been trying to hide the information but it is better to know the truth so that nurses take necessary action,” he said.
Elsewhere, the Zimbabwe Senior Doctors Association (SHDA) has given government up to 29 July to resolve the issue of PPEs or they would also join the industrial action.
In a letter addressed to the Deputy Health Minister John Mangwiro, the senior doctors said the situation was no longer conducive for them to continue reporting for duty without PPEs.
“As specialist doctors offering service in government hospitals, we are finding it difficult to continue offering services in our work stations because of a number of challenges, which we have been in discussion with your office and the Health Services Board (HSB), and for which no solution has been offered,” the senior doctors’ letter reads.
“The hospitals are having very serious challenges in procuring appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), as such, we are unfairly exposed to Covid-19. Efforts to get these rectified have been associated with erratic supplies in at a time.” newzimbabwe