Byo businesses crowdsource Covid-19 response

By Albert Nxumalo

Bulawayo`s private sector has initiated a drive to capacitate three key health facilities to be used as isolation points as part of a response to the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

Ekusileni Medical Centre, Thorngrove Hospital and Mater Dei Hospital are the targeted facilities.

The city is yet to record a Coronavirus case.

As of Thursday, Zimbabwe has recorded five positive Coronavirus cases including one death on Monday.

Prominent lawyer David Coltart and business executive Busisa Moyo separately gave updates on the initiatives.

Recently, a proposal was made by the Parliamentary Portfolio on Health and Child Care for Ekusileni to be turned into a quarantine centre to accommodate potential cases of Coronavirus.

Thorngrove Hospital was identified as the main centre where suspected or confirmed cases of the novel virus are to be treated.

However, Thorngrove hospital is ill-equipped to handle the COVID-19 cases as it has few beds and is faced with medical sundry shortages.

Coltart appealed to his diaspora “friends”  particularly those overseas who originally come from Zimbabwe to consider contributing to the fund.

He said preliminary assessment at Mater Die shows that “aside from other needs it requires US$65000 so that it can secure ventilators which are desperately needed.”

On the other hand, Moyo said they aim to turn the three facilities “into fully equipped testing, isolation and treatment centres for COVID-19.”

“Matebeleland Chamber of Industries (MCI) is the base and coordinator for this but all private sector is welcome. Deloitte are the auditors”.

Part of the plan is to get “50-100 beds for Thorngrove and 50 for Ekusileni.”

“Linen, curtains, pillows and softs also required. A bill of requirement or bill of materials will be compiled and circulated,” said Moyo.

Based on Coltart’s update Mater Dei is currently “the only medical facility in Bulawayo that is anywhere near ready.”

“… But there is work to do and the work is moving as fast as resources permit and could move faster if additional resources were made available”.

“The Hospital needs all the help it can get. Donations are called for, in cash, kind or labour. Bulawayo responded to the fire all those years ago – we need to do so again – and quickly”.

Once the hospital is ready it is envisaged to have a separate isolated COVID “reception” so that no victims go to casualty.

“They are renovating/building a small isolation unit to manage the serious cases, so no one with the virus goes into the main building.

“There is no other proper facility in Bulawayo at this time. This is an emergency plan. We need US$65,000 for 4 ventilators that may be available,” he said.

Old ventilators are being serviced and prepared, Coltart added.

As part of social distancing measures, hospital staff may be “accommodate(d) at the hospital so they will be under lockdown, away from their families. They face a tough time ahead and are front line.”

“We also have to support their families. The staff, like all workers in Zimbabwe, have been adversely affected by the economic situation, so we need to support them,”  the former Education minister said.

Moyo said several health professionals, pharmacists and corporates have been engaged in the initiative.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has revealed that on Thursday the National Microbiology Reference Laboratory tested 65 samples and two tested positive.

“Among the 65 samples tested today (26 March), was the repeat test for the sample from the individual whom was reported previously as having received an inconclusive result. Today, he tested Negative for COVID-19,” reads the latest update.

It added, “Therefore, to date, Zimbabwe had 5 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including one death”.

According to the ministry, to date 165 tests have been carried out, five turned out to be positive, 159 negative and one inconclusive.

The Government has since promulgated Statutory Instrument (SI) 77 of 2020 that among other measures provides for up to 12 months’ imprisonment for people who gather in crowds of more than 50 people, likely to promote the spread of Covid-19. 

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