MEDICAL practitioners have urged government to consider establishing makeshift health centres for COVID-19 admissions as the country’s health institutions are inundated with severe cases needing hospitalisation.
The health experts told NewsDay that hospitals were overwhelmed with patients infected by the respiratory virus, resulting in shortages of beds and equipment required to provide the necessary care.
For almost a month, Zimbabwe has been under level four lockdown, which prohibits public gatherings and intercity travel, among other measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Government is set to review the lockdown measures today. On July 14, the country recorded 3 110 new infections, and two days later, 102 deaths, the highest figures since the first case was recorded in March last year.
However, there were decreases in both new infections and deaths recorded over the weekend.
The Health and Child Care ministry situational report on Sunday said 617 new cases were recorded, with a slight decrease in the seven-day rolling average of 2 039, while 44 people succumbed to the respiratory disease.
Medical and Dental Private Practitioners of Zimbabwe Association president Johannes Marisa said there was need for an alternative plan to ensure that patients do not succumb to the virus due to failure to access medical care.
He said due to the likely continued requirement for hospital admission for severe cases, more intensive care support was needed, including erection of temporary health centres.
“The vaccination rollout programme is vital for us to win the battle against the virus. Government is working towards ensuring that we achieve herd immunity by October this year and it is commendable,” Marisa said.
“However, the vaccination exercise, (due to) complacency, is ineffective to combat the spread of the virus when we have not yet reached herd immunity to vaccinate 60% of the population.
“With the public failing to adhere to the protocols, new cases will continue to rise, and government should remain alert and consider erecting temporary health centres at stadiums and other public spaces to ensure that those who would be suffering from severe complications will get medical care.”
Mpilo Central Hospital acting chief executive officer Solwayo Ngwenya warned of the continued loss of lives due to complacency, adding that reckless citizens were putting health workers’ lives at risk, which could affect service delivery at health institutions.
“Life is increasingly difficult for us. All the extreme complacency ends up in our hands and endangering our lives and our families. The public is putting health workers at risk,” Ngwenya said.
Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights secretary Norman Matara said government should urgently equip health institutions, especially district hospitals, considering that rural areas have now become COVID-19 hotspots.
“COVID -19 has caused mass infections, which has led to mass hospitalisation. In the next few weeks, there will be an even higher demand for hospitalisation,” he said.