‘Government neglecting COVID-19 positive nurses’

THE Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina) has accused the government of neglecting Mpilo Central Hospital nurses who contracted COVID-19 in the line of duty and are now quarantined at the Elangeni Training Centre in Bulawayo.
As many as 13 nurses at Mpilo recently tested positive to COVID-19.

By Nqobani Ndlovu

On May 28, 197 health workers at the hospital were placed on self-isolation after a colleague tested positive for coronavirus.
Zina president Enock Dongo bemoaned the “inhumane” conditions at the quarantine centre where the nurses are staying, saying they have been left with no option, but to sue authorities for redress.

“We are very much worried with the conditions where our nurses are quarantined. We are not pleased as the government is turning a blind eye on the need to make sure they create a conducive environment for the nurses who contracted the disease while on duty,” Dongo told Southern Eye yesterday.

According to Dongo, inmates at Elangeni use cold water for bathing and are poorly fed, among other inadequacies.

“There has not been any response from the authorities. It is the responsibility of the government to make sure they take care of those nurses who contracted COVID-19 at work. This neglect leaves us with no option, but to protest and sue to protect our members who are now in this sorry situation not out of their making,” he said.

“They could be COVID-19 negative had the government provided all necessary protective clothing and other essentials as we always pleaded.”

The High Court in April ordered government to provide personal protective equipment for frontline health workers across the country to protect them against contracting COVID-19 while attending to patients, an order the administration has failed to fulfil.

Contacted for comment, Bulawayo provincial medical director Welcome Mlilo said he had not received any official complaint from Zina.

“My office has not received complaints on the issue, but I have come across the reports on social media. Upon receipt of this public message, my office is now engaged in addressing the issues that have been raised. We are actively looking to solve some of the issues highlighted through both government and the private sector,” he said.

Returnees have been complaining of poor services at quarantine centres, forcing the government to yield to demands to allow hotels and lodges to offer quarantine services.

Under this arrangement, returnees pay the costs of their stay.

As of last week, 184 returnees were reported to have fled quarantine centres because of inhospitable living conditions and lack of food, among others.

Nurses are already on strike protesting poor salaries and working conditions, a situation that could hamper efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.

About 100 000 healthcare workers were infected by COVID-19 with more than 260 casualties worldwide as of May, according to the International Council of Nurses.

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