Contact tracing poser for deceased Covid-19 positive cases

HEALTH officials have noted that it will be difficult to do contact tracing in cases where Covid-19 positive cases are identified during post mortem.

This comes after 18 people succumbed to the respiratory disease on Wednesday with 16 of the deaths recorded in Harare.

Officials have noted that asymptomatic transmission may have contributed to high rate of local cases.

Coupled with low testing rates and backlog challenges, local health officials have been unable to quantify how great a risk asymptomatic transmission is to the communities.

Acting Chief Executive Officer for Mpilo Central Hospital, Professor Solwayo Ngwenya, said some people are unaware they are carrying the virus and may be spreading it unknowingly.

“It means the virus’s extent in the community is not known, we don’t know how many people are infected. It’s a sign of very dangerous times if you start seeing people just dropping dead and finding out on post mortem that they have coronavirus,” he told CITE.

Prof Ngwenya said it was difficult to conduct contact tracing of someone who tested positive to coronavirus after their death.

“Effectively you can’t even trace those people to see who were their contacts yet in a pandemic situation, you are supposed to be able to trace, test people and quarantine them for you to be able to contain the virus,” he said.

“Now if people are just found to be positive on post mortem or they just collapse and die of coronavirus, you don’t know their contacts. You cannot trace as much as you would want to know the history from the dead person, where they were and so forth.”

Prof Ngwenya noted that authorities may trace the deceased’s relatives but cannot other contacts they interacted with.

“Contact tracing will be difficult. Right now as we speak, we are having very serious community infections. The virus is spreading like wildfire, there will come a critical point when the virus has gained enough strength inside people’s bodies and it will start killing more people, who may drop dead while at work or just collapse quickly then be taken to hospital but die before receiving any treatment,” he said.

He warned that a wave of more Covid-19 fatalities may occur around September and urged people to take precautions more seriously.

“I think we may see this around September, I  remember warning people sternly that if you are reckless you won’t see September and this is happening. It’s so frightening,” Prof Ngwenya said.

The Ministry of Health and Child Care also indicated there were 75 new cases reported Wednesday.

74 are due to local transmission and one is from a returnee who came back from South Africa.

This takes the national total to 4 893 confirmed cases, as of August 12, 2020.

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