By Bernard Mpofu
The number of Covid-19 patients being admitted at Zimbabwe’s public hospitals has declined significantly, forcing one of the country’s largest health institutions, Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, to reclaim some of the space it had reserved to handle cases of the infectious disease.
After the outbreak of Covid-19 in March last year, the government converted some spaces at public hospitals to isolation centres to handle cases that needed hospitalisation.
One of the centres was set up at Parirenyatwa in Harare with a capacity to handle over 200 patients.
According to the Health and Child Care ministry as of April 26, only 36 Covid-19 patients were hospitalised throughout the country.
Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa, said officials at Parirenyatwa were now reclaiming the space to accommodate other patients because Covid-19 cases had declined significantly.
“Generally, hospital admissions for Covid-19 cases have decreased, resulting in institutions such as the Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals reclaiming areas in the out-patient department for routine service provision,” Mutsvangwa said.
“However, Cabinet is advising citizens to maintain a high level of alertness and adhere to the preventive measures already in force.
Zimbabwe was hit by a second wave of Covid-19 cases after last year’s festive season, a development which prompted authorities to enforce a two-month long strict lockdown to limit the spread of the disease.
Following the easing of the restrictions, experts now say Zimbabwe could experience a more devastating third wave of the Covid-19 outbreak after easing lockdown restrictions and allowing businesses to re-open.
Bulawayo’s Mpilo Hospital acting chief executive officer, Solwayo Ngwenya, is on record saying complacency was creeping in among Zimbabweans following the easing of the restrictions.
Ngwenya, a vocal advocate of tighter measures to control the spread of the coronavirus, said most people and businesses were failing to adhere to World Health Organisation guidelines to prevent coronavirus infections.
“This urge of trying to forage for food and so on and forth in the middle of a global pandemic is going to be our Achilles heel,” he warned.
“That is what is going to contribute to a lot of deaths, especially in Africa and Zimbabwe.
“At the moment the government tried its best, we had a lockdown and infections went down and later on the government was under pressure obviously.”
Ngwenya added: “People were distressed because the economy was closed.
“But I’m sure that the government is monitoring the situation because very soon the virus is going to force the government to act.
“It’s going to force people back into their homes and another lockdown will be looming.
“So it’s either you die or go back into lockdown. So the government will strike the balance.”
He said although Zimbabwe had started its Covid-19 vaccination programme after taking delivery of vaccines from China and India, the country still faced a very lethal third wave of the outbreak because people were largely complacent.