TWELVE pregnant women at the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH)’s Lady Rodwell Maternity Unit have tested positive for Covid-19 prompting authorities to conduct mass testing for everyone and disinfecting the building.
Those who would have tested negative will be taken to Mpilo Central Hospital maternity ward while the UBH maternity unit will be turned into an isolation centre.
Statistics from the Ministry of Health and Child Care show that Bulawayo has the highest Incidence Risk of 906, almost double that of Harare at 567, while Matabeleland South has 402.
Zimbabwe is experiencing a surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths with the country having recorded 28 deaths and 1 949 cases on Tuesday.
As at July 6, 2021, the country had recorded 57 963 cases and 1 939 deaths. The national recovery rate has further declined to 72 percent as active cases go up to 14 400.
UBH acting chief executive officer Dr Narcisious Dzvanga confirmed the outbreak, saying they have reacted swiftly to scale up containment measures for the deadly pandemic.
“I can confirm that there is an increase in pregnant mothers testing Covid-19 positive. At the moment we have 12 expecting mothers who are positive at Lady Rodwell Maternity Unit,” he said.
Dr Dzvanga said as part of the containment measures, they have made an arrangement with Mpilo Central Hospital to absorb all Covid-19 negative pregnant mothers.
He said those testing Covid-19 positive including at Mpilo Central Hospital will be taken to the UBH’s Lady Rodwell Maternity Unit for hospitalisation.
“We are taking measures to see if between our two sister hospitals of Mpilo Central Hospital and UBH, one of them can be turned into a red zone for the pregnant mothers. The proposal is that UBH maternity unit become a red zone for those who are positive and require hospitalisation with Mpilo absorbing the negative ones,” he said.
Dr Dzvanga said the situation could be worse in the coming few days as UBH’s Old Bartley Memorial was also fast filling up.
“The number of expecting mothers who are Covid-19 positive and that of negatives is almost running at 50-50 percent. We are now preparing to turn our UBH maternity unit into the red zone for the province and that is work in progress and by end of day we would have concluded the issue,” he said.
According to the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Bulawayo and Harare provinces have the highest Incidence Risk assessment based on recorded trends of infections.
The assessment measures the number of likely infections per 100 000 people.
The bigger the number the higher the chances that infections could spread faster if positive behaviour change to follow Covid-19 prevention measures like staying at home, masking up and sanitising hands frequently are not adopted.
Matabeleland South leads the country’s rural provinces Incidence Risk index.
Bulawayo and Matabeleland South, due to their proximity to South Africa, which has been recording the highest daily infections and deaths since the pandemic broke out on the continent early last year, have added risk.
Over the past few days, Bulawayo has recorded an upsurge in cases which led to the province running out of hospital space for Covid-19 admissions.
Already, Bulawayo hospitals are experiencing a shortage of space in wards designated for Covid-19 as positive cases continue to soar in the city with Thorngrove Infectious Diseases Hospital — a designated isolation centre, having patients sharing oxygen points.
According to a weekly Covid-19 update for the city, as of Friday last week, Thorngrove had 34 patients admitted to the hospital’s isolation wing against a bed capacity of 28.
Last year in July, 18 UBH health personnel working in the same ward tested positive for Covid-19 after attending to an infected patient.
During the same year, 68 health workers at the hospital were forced to self-isolate at home after a 79-year-old woman who tested positive died at the referral facility. ■