Rights Doctors Demand Answers From Govt On COVID-19 Patient’s Mysterious Death

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

THE Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) has called on the government to carry out a thorough investigation into what led to the death of Zimbabwe’s second COVID-19 patient this week.

The second death is of a 79-year old man, Harry Ian, who died at Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo amid concerns it was only discovered five days after his burial that he had succumbed to the deadly coronavirus.

Zimbabwe has three confirmed coronavirus deaths. However, the ZADHR wants the government to investigate the death of Ian as they suspect the authorities bungled on taking precautionary measures in handling a suspected COVID-19 patient.

“The absence of diagnostic facilities for COVID-19 brings to question the state of preparedness of medical centres outside Harare. What is the government doing to improve the turnaround time for tests?” ZADHR queried in a statement.

“The patient was treated at a local hospital. Is this an infectious diseases hospital or a COVID-19 designated facility?”

Zimbabwe currently only has one hospital admitting coronavirus patients, Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital in Harare.

“The inability to diagnose on time is clear that health professionals attending the deceased were exposed as they lack essential protective equipment (PPEs). Does this case reflect the lack of knowledge on the case definition for suspected cases of COVID-19? The patient was first seen on the 23 March and was not advised to self-quarantine, get tested for COVID-19, and managed as a suspected case.”

ZADHR said this case mirrors the utter lack of preparedness of the health delivery system.

“It also reflects the minimal focus on other regions outside Harare. The Minister of Health must be made to account on what he referred to when he claimed the country was prepared for COVID-19 when such regional inequities and pervasive logistical issues characterise our response to date.”

However, Health Minister Obadiah Moyo has in the past issued several statements assuring the nation that Zimbabwe was ready to deal with COVID-19 cases countrywide.

Information made available by the health ministry shows that the deceased visited safari resort in Hwange between 14 and 16 March and on 23 March after he had returned to Bulawayo, he developed a sore throat, fever and cough.

He underwent treatment using antibiotics prescribed by his doctor. However, the worsening shortness of breath made him visit the hospital and he was admitted overnight before being transferred to the intensive care unit the next morning.

He died the next day and results of his death were only announced five days after he had been buried confirming that he had died from coronavirus.