HomeNewsGovt forces COVID-19 untested patients on hospitals

Govt forces COVID-19 untested patients on hospitals

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BY PHYLLIS MBANJE/HARRIET CHIKANDIWA

GOVERNMENT has ordered medical facilities to take in patients who do not have COVID-19 test results, amid concerns by health workers that the move would expose them to infection.

Public and private medical facilities had lately resorted to demanding COVID-19 results before admitting patients as infection rates among health service providers increase.

They argued that health personnel did not have adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), a situation which put them at risk of contracting the disease from patients.

The situation has escalated in public hospitals following a strike by nurses and senior doctors, leaving only skeleton staff to attend to patients.

But Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said refusal to admit untested patients was in contravention of the Public Health Act.

“Government warns those medical facilities who have been contravening the Act. Both public and private facilities should admit all patients without the prerequisite of a COVID-19 test and proceed to do a PCR [polymerase chain reaction] test,” she told journalists yesterday.

Recently, Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals said the prevailing situation had forced them to only admit emergency cases while those already in hospital would be tested for COVID-19.

“All staff and patients will be assumed COVID-19 positive unless tested and confirmed otherwise,” the hospital said.

The hospital said resources permitting, all patients should be tested for COVID-19 before admission. Those who test positive before admission would then be admitted directly to the COVID-19 centre.

Doctors in private practice have also raised concern over the overwhelming number of patients at their facilities following the ongoing strike by nurses and senior doctors at public hospitals.

Borrowdale Trauma Centre chief executive Vivek Solanki said the cost of preventive care was high as every patient was potentially COVID-19 positive.

“The danger also is in the fact that the COVID-19 tests are not very accurate with a high probability of false negative results. This means that the nurses and doctors attending to a patient have to don full PPE for each patient. This is an added cost burden on the patient as the PPE are imported and expensive,” he said.

Solanki also said the few private so-called COVID-19 hospitals had opened with inadequate staff and poor protocols and charge upfront admission fees of between US$3 000 and US$5 000.

“This is a major dilemma for patients who may not all be able to afford this cost from the private COVID-19 hospitals and lack of human capacity at the State hospitals,” he said.

Solanki said he did not admit COVID-19 patients, but managed them on an outpatient basis.

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