Eight health workers at the Bukalo clinic in the Zambezi region are said to have tested positive for Covid-19 in recent weeks, prompting fears of a potential cluster.
New Era has been informed that health workers boycotted work after a colleague’s result came back positive last week. The workers claimed no guidance was provided by the management on how to proceed with the issue, including whether to close the health centre for disinfection and allow staff to self-isolate. According to officials, who opted to remain anonymous, the nurses are suspected to have contracted the virus after handling the remains of a patient who died at the clinic three weeks ago.
Test results later confirmed the patient died of Covid-19. Thereafter, five nurses tested positive, while three more tested positive between last week and Wednesday. Since then, nurses have been reporting for work until Wednesday when they revolted after there were no interventions effected. Unsuspecting patients have been flocking to the clinic for treatment in the past week, while nurses are seemingly already infected. This has brought panic to the community for fear of the virus spreading. “This is unacceptable.
Our superiors are aware about the situation, but nothing has been done, like to advise staff members to self-isolate until such a time that they are fully recovered. Many of them are symptomatic.
“We have just been going to work daily as mandated, and this has greatly put patients and the community at risk,” said sources who opted to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.
Zambezi health director Agnes Mwilima, who had initially denied any knowledge of the situation, was quick to point out that the clinic was still operational as opposed to a complete shutdown. This is in contrast to employees who revolted against going to work on Wednesday for their own safety, until drastic measures are taken. “The health workers who were exposed were relieved from duty to go and get tested, and none returned to work. The only people who are available is a doctor and another support staff member delegated from the regional hospital. These two are working,” said Mwilima. The centre is now operating on an emergency basis for critical illnesses, while the rest are referred to other health centres in the area.
Pressed for more as to why the region never acted promptly upon realisation of the exposure, Mwilima said “That is what I was informed happened, so I believe it was addressed then since it was handled at a district level, hence it didn’t reach the attention of the regional leadership.” In addition, the director could not state whether or when the health centre will be disinfected.