There was pandemonium at the Bulawayo Central Police Station, Tuesday, after a suspect arrested in Beitbridge started exhibiting symptoms associated with the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19).
Sources claimed the man was held at the station for unnamed offences when he started coughing and developed a high fever.
The suspect was reportedly quarantined in one of the holding cells.
This prompted the police to call for the Rapid Response Team that took the man to Thorngrove Infectious Disease Hospital Tuesday evening, where he is currently admitted.
In an interview with CITE, City of Bulawayo Assistant Director of Health Services, Dr Khulamuzi Nyathi, confirmed the hospital received the suspect who was waiting for his test results from Harare.
Dr Nyathi also added that Thorngrove Hospital had admitted individuals with suspected COVID-19 several times, whose results had, however, come out negative.
“As much as I may not have the exact figure, almost every two days, we have to activate our case management unit, activate our centre. As it is right now, we do have somebody who was admitted this man was somewhere in Beitbridge, he was arrested by police for certain crimes but because he was coughing, he was brought here for isolation,” he said.
The city health official said specimens from the suspect were taken and already sent to the National Microbiology Laboratory at Sally Mugabe Hospital in Harare.
“We are now waiting for results and his treatment or discharge depends on the results. If he is positive, we are going to trace all of his contacts and advise self-isolation while we test them. For those that have become symptomatic and need hospitalisation, we are going to isolate them,” Dr Nyathi explained.
He reiterated that there were no confirmed positive cases as yet that had arisen from Bulawayo.
“This is not the first time we have admitted patients, every two or three days, we assess somebody suspected of having COVID-19. Of the patients admitted here their results from Harare have come out negative. If someone is coughing and results are negative for COVID-19, we give them something else to treat them and give them antibiotics other than keeping them here
“We continue to try to keep the community safe, isolate patients whenever we suspect there is a case. We conduct health education and do encourage members of the public to inform us whenever they suspect somebody has COVID-19. They can call our toll free lines,” said the official.
Meanwhile, Dr Nyathi admitted their toll free lines were down due to the lockdown as the staff manning the call centre were not classified as essential service providers.
“We had not anticipated this kind of challenge because we were told essential service providers are health workers yet we have those who have to man the call centre. We are now working around this and appeal to security forces that whenever they see staff members coming to work, they must recoginse their services. For an effective response against coronavirus, we have to note it’s not only health workers who are necessary to have an efficient response. There are other people, who may not be seen or are invisible such as those behind the call centre who have to coordinate calls from all over Bulawayo and sometimes outside the city,” he said.
“The call centre staff refer calls to the Rapid Response Team, to the ambulance, to the disinfection team or to the health education depending on the case. If somebody needs consultation, the call is referred to one who will offer the consultation.”
Dr Nyathi also expressed gratitude to some city doctors who volunteered their free services from 8am to 8pm.