Govt defers Ekusileni Hospital opening

GOVERNMENT has once again deferred the reopening of Ekusileni Medical Centre, with Bulawayo Metropolitan Affairs minister Judith Ncube admitting yesterday that the November 30 deadline for reopening of the medical centre was no longer feasible.

By PRAISEMORE SITHOLE/NQOBANI NDLOVU

Last month, Ncube told the media and local health stakeholders during a tour of Ekusileni that the medical institution designated as a COVID-19 isolation and treatment centre would open its doors on November 20.

The hospital, which has had a number of false starts, has a 200-bed capacity and is expected to admit 50 patients on the opening date.

Vice-President and Health minister Constantino Chiwenga also toured the institution a week before the visit by Ncube, where he committed to ensure the hospital, that has been closed for years, becomes operational.

In an interview yesterday, Ncube said no date had been set.

“Regarding Ekusileni Hospital, there is no official date yet and all I know is that we are pushing forward to have an official date for its reopening,” Ncube told Southern Eye.

The delay in the reopening of the hospital came at a time Bulawayo and Matabeleland were emerging as COVID-19 hotspots, a development experts warned would overwhelm the stretched government health facilities in the country’s second city.

Bulawayo and Matabeleland North provinces have the highest number of active cases at 127, followed by Matabeleland South with 76.

This came amid reports that over 120 boarding students at John Tallach Secondary School in Matabeleland North tested positive for COVID-19 this week, re-igniting calls for the government to shut down schools.

Ncube said a return to full lockdown in Bulawayo remained possible as COVID-19 cases kept rising, while also pleading with the public to observe all preventive measures to minimise spread of the pandemic.

“We are trying to remind our residents to adhere to the rules and regulations. I wish people could really look into this because the numbers will keep on escalating if we keep on ignoring the rules,” Ncube noted.

“People are no longer wearing masks and I am appealing to the public that they should follow the COVID-19 preventive rules and regulations.”

Apart from the yet-to-be opened Ekusileni, Bulawayo has Thorngrove Infectious Diseases Hospital, the Old Bartley Memorial Block within the United Bulawayo Hospitals and the privately-owned Mater Dei Hospital as COVID-19 designated treatment centres.

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