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BCC appeals for urgent fund release to upgrade coronavirus hospital

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

THE Bulawayo City Council has appealed to government to urgently release funds for the expansion, rehabilitation and modification of the city’s COVID-19 isolation facilities.

Currently, only the Wilkins Hospital in Harare and Thorngrove in Bulawayo are used as quarantine centres for the pandemic.

Briefing journalists in Bulawayo on the city’s preparedness in terms of the fight against the global pandemic, Bulawayo City Council Health Services Assistant Director, Khulamuzi Nyathi said the local authority has submitted a budget to government to fight the virus but has not yet received a response from authorities in Harare.

Nyathi said council desperately needed the money to rehabilitate Thorngrove Hospital facilities as well as buy consumables.

“Some isolation wards at Thorngrove were meant to cater for non-respiratory diseases such as cholera. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease and we need resources to partition the wards so that there are no infections. We also need money to buy other things like tanks and testing equipment,” said Nyathi.

The city official said council health workers were also at risk of contracting the disease because they are working without Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

“Health workers are using PPE which they have used from the previous outbreaks. Local laboratories are also not yet equipped to perform microbiology,” said Nyathi.

He also appealed to government to suspend procurement procedures on all COVID-19 related consumables.

“We are having a challenge when buying consumables for COVID-19. We buy these things in RTGS currency and prices keep on changing on almost daily basis. We have highlighted this to the minister (Health and Child Care). We want the procurement procedures of these consumables to be waved,” said Nyathi.

He bemoaned the brain drain among experienced health workers in council.

“Experienced people are resigning almost every day,” he said.

Nyathi said despite the challenges, the local authority was doing its best to prevent the outbreak of the virus in the city.

“We have activated our emergency preparedness plan. We have set up a rapid response team monitoring all recorded cases and travellers passing ports,” said Nyathi.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday banned all public gathering in excess of 100 people in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.