By Robert Tapfumaneyi
ONLY a fraction of Covid-19 patients will need to be admitted in intensive care unit (ICU) and every health facility in Zimbabwe is able to isolate and manage a person seeking treatment for coronavirus.
This was confirmed by the Covid-19 national coordinator Agnes Mahomva dispelling reports that public hospitals had run out of ventilators, beds and other equipment as coronavirus cases soar.
She said only two to five percent of Covid-19 patients would need access to ventilators and ICU facilities.
“Those who are critically ill, severe patients that needs ICU, every single health facility in the district is able to isolate and manage at the beginning and know how to refer and what to advise,” Mahomva told journalists Wednesday in Harare.
“I think the concept of us always thinking of ICU as the place that manages Covid-19 is really what is misleading. It’s only the 15% or so that are moderate to very ill patients that require admission and of that only about 2 to 5% for ICU, and the ventilator.
“If you are looking at our numbers, you can see it’s a very tiny percentage and hence the ventilators and the types that we have, the numbers are not bad. Let us send a very clear message that when one is ill and is admitted, it does not necessary mean they have to be on a ventilator,” she said.
Mahomva added: “Hence it is important the message coming from the relatives is; is it because there was no ventilator or is it that they thought if they have a ventilator their relative will do well.
“Certainly, we would love to have much more in various different places, but remember it also comes with the package of the health personnel that are trained to do just that so it is not something that you will see in a small clinic.”
Mahomva was responding to messages circulating that due to an increase in Covid-19 cases, hospitals are failing to cope and relatives have to look for their own ventilators.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports the Zimbabwe health ministry is inviting tenders to supply oxygen to its medical facilities as the number of coronavirus infections surge.
The request was made for hospitals already facing strain from a shortage of beds and equipment, which threaten to overwhelm the nation’s weak public-health system.
The tender closes January 18, the ministry said in an advertisement published in the state-owned Herald newspaper. Portia Manangazira, the director for epidemiology and disease control in the ministry, declined to comment.
Zimbabwe has recorded 24 256 cases of Covid-19 and 589 fatalities, according to latest health ministry data.