Lack of isolation facilities worries Kwekwe health officials

As authorities battle to control surging Coronavirus cases in Kwekwe the city is faced with another potential crisis amid reports of ill-equipped isolation centres to manage surging cases.

Located in the heart of the country, Kwekwe was declared a hotspot and the government imposed a localised lockdown in May to curb the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant.

According to the latest figures, Kwekwe recorded 34 new cases on July 7.

What is worrying is that the town does not have fully equipped isolation centres despite having more than 400 active Covid-19 cases.

What it means is that those who would have tested positive are referred back to their homes where they placed under ‘isolation’ under the care of their loved ones.

Health officials are struggling to monitor all the patients in isolation due to resource constraints.   

Renovations at health centres designated as isolation centres are yet to be completed, over a year after the outbreak of the virus in the country.

Kwekwe Infectious Disease Hospital and Bale Medical Center are almost 90 percent complete.

Kwekwe General Hospital ward which is also under renovations has converted a male ward with a carrying capacity of 40 patients into a makeshift isolation ward.

Both females and males are isolated there.

The maternity section has a reservation that can only accommodate two positive cases.

District Public Works Officer Willard Madamombe said most if not all of the facilities were yet to be equipped though most of the refurbishment works have been done.

“The isolation centres are at various stages of completion. But in a nutshell, most of them are yet to be equipped. You find that there might be beds but no linen for the patients. Also, there would be no proper ablution facilities and kitchen to feed those who would have been isolated,” he said.

Kwekwe IDH and Bale Medical Centre, which can accommodate more than 150 patients, according to Madamombe, are ready to admit patients.

“As for Kwekwe General Hospital, we can say it is complete but we need to connect oxygen tanks so that those who are critical can be taken there,” he said.

District Nursing Officer, Sister Gretel Mahere acknowledges the city is in a dilemma.

“We are in a dilemma because people are crammed in their homes as we do not have anywhere to put them in isolation. All the isolation centres are currently inhabitable and that puts us in a fix. We are left with no option but to isolate people in their homes, which is not the safest place at all,” she said.

Mahere said the situation was dire especially for those who do not have habitable homes, making those homes breeding grounds for the virus.

“We have to do something as soon as possible so that we make the isolation centres habitable. This enables us to administer medication at the isolation centres and easily monitor them in one place. We also face transport challenges to monitor everyone who would have been isolated at their homes,” said Sister Mahere.

She agrees that they have since been overwhelmed and cannot visit everyone.

“As it is we are overwhelmed as we cannot visit everyone who is isolated at home. Something needs to be done quickly because the number of new cases is on the increase daily,” she said.

Chairperson of the District Taskforce on Covid-19, Vitalis Kwashira also admits that the situation was dire.

“The situation is bad. Especially in the rural parts of the town like in Zhombe and Silobela. There some cases where a number of family members are tested positive and this a result of a lack of isolation places. One person tests positive and gets isolated at home and contaminates others. The situation requires urgent attention. If need be, we can write to the government for urgent intervention,” said Kwashira.

As a result, the district task force convened a meeting where it was agreed that the isolation centres be equipped as a matter of urgency before the cases spiral out of control.

“As a task force, we agreed that the isolation centres need to be well equipped and that social welfare should avail food provisions and other requirements for the centres,” read part of the minutes.

The task force also agreed that those who would have tested positive but asymptomatic, be isolated at Bell Medical Center, Torwood Hospital, Kwekwe IDH, and Kwekwe General Hospital while the situation is being addressed.

Kwekwe private ward and Kwekwe IDH have also been reserved for Covid 19 cases since there is no more space in the current covid-19 ward at Kwekwe General Hospital.

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