Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Reporter
BULAWAYO had as of Friday gone for 23 days without recording a new case of Covid-19 although the city has a backlog of 56 samples awaiting testing after the National TB Reference Laboratory at Mplio Central Hospital resumed testing last week.
Latest official figures from the Ministry of Health and Child Care showed that Bulawayo has a cumulative total of 12 Covid-19 positive cases, four recoveries and one death. It has seven active cases. This comes as the country recorded five new confirmed Covid-19 cases on Friday bringing the total number to 56. According to the Ministry of Health and Child Care, the five new cases included three illegal Malawians who were intercepted by security authorities in Beitbridge.
“Five cases tested positive for Covid-19. These include one male returnee from Botswana who is in isolation in Gweru, three illegal Malawian immigrants who were intercepted by security authorities and are in isolation in Beitbridge while awaiting deportation to Malawi and one female from Harare. A total of 295 RDT (Rapid Diagnostic Tests) screening tests and 110 PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) diagnostics tests were done. The cumulative number of tests done to date is 35 112 (19 918 RDT and 15 194 PCR),” reads the update.
To date of the 56 confirmed positive cases, the country has 18 recoveries and four fatalities. Meanwhile, in his weekly update, Bulawayo Mayor, Councillor Solomon Mguni revealed that 1 222 specimens have so far been sent to the National TB Reference Laboratory at Mpilo Hospital for Reference Laboratory for Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) testing. The laboratory resumed testing last week after getting delivery of consumables. The shortage of consumables had forced the facility to stop work for a number of days.
“The city depends on the National TB Reference Laboratory for Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction tests and has gone for 23 days without a new Covid-19 case. At least 1 222 specimens have been sent to the laboratory for RT-PCR testing, 1 166 (95 percent) processed and only 56 results are pending to date. A total of 668 contacts were followed up, of which 604 (90 percent) have completed the 21-day follow up period. The Lancet Laboratory now collects specimens and sends to their Harare counterpart for RT-PCR testing.
“They have not reported any new cases in the city,” said Clr Mguni.
He said four of the cases recorded in the city have since recovered.
He said the fact that the city has gone for more than three weeks without a new positive case meant that efforts by Government and other stakeholders to curb the spread of the coronavirus were bearing fruit, although the battle was far from over.
“It remains emphasised that these low figures should not lull health care workers and the community into complacency because a surge in the number of cases remains possible,” said Clr Mguni.
The mayor said the city has received 2 764 travellers from outside the country of which 2 726 have been cleared and 38 are still being followed up. He said of the 2 764 travellers, 874 were deportees who passed through Bulawayo and were isolated at the Bulawayo Polytechnic College and the United College of Education.
“In Health Surveillance the implementation of protective factors to reduce the general risk of transmission is ongoing. These include activities such as active case finding, intensified shop inspections, health education on key messages that include self-isolation, social distancing, and hygiene practices; with special emphasis on the importance of staying at home.
Shops in the Central Business District are still being monitored to encourage social distancing among customers, and checking if sanitisers or hand washing facilities are available at entry points,” said Clr Mguni.
Pertaining to the refurbishment of Thorngrove Hospital, the Mayor said the children’s isolation ward has had its external walls painted, roof painted, broken window panes repaired and gutters removed although they were yet to be replaced. Two boreholes have been drilled at the hospital with one borehole connected to a Jojo Tank.
On challenges that the city was facing, Clr Mguni said public loitering remains a challenge with the lockdown not being observed especially in residential areas with the community at risk of contracting Covid-19 infection. He said there was now the re-emergence of unauthorised vending in the Central Business District (CBD).
“As council we will continue engaging the police and the business community in enforcing maintenance of social distancing. Information dissemination in the CBD and hotspots will now be done on daily basis. The council will further continue engaging councillors and residents’ associations to assist with information dissemination on prevention of Covid-19, there is also a need to enhance enforcement of illegal vendors,” said Clr Mguni.