Thursday, June 20, 2024

Botswana health system already overwhelmed by COVID-19?

Botswana’s health system is beginning to buckle from the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic forcing government to drop the automatic institutional quarantine of positive cases.

In the early stages of the pandemic every positive case was put through mandatory supervised quarantine at a health facility. The Task Force have shifted their focus to symptomatic patients who are placed at hospitals such as Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital in Gaborone for observation.

The Task Force are now pleading with asymptomatic positive cases not to show up at hospitals because the health system does not have the capacity to cater for all positive cases.

Addressing the nation recently Deputy Coordinator of the national Task Force Professor Mosepele Mosepele said they preferred to have positive people self-isolate at certain ‘camps’ instead. He also said those whose places of residence met the required standards for self-isolation are allowed to stay at home.

This is a break from the protocol observed in the earlier months of the pandemic when the government fought to keep the virus beyond borders.

“We want to avoid a situation where those who are experiencing complications are turned away from hospital due to shortage of beds at hospitals,” Mosepele said. He explained that asymptomatic patients are allowed to cease isolating after 10 days and those displaying symptoms are kept in isolation until they no longer display symptoms.

“They can isolate for up to 20 days if need be. Recovery from Coronavirus is in the context of no longer being infectious.” 

The latest COVID-19 update indicates a significant rise in the daily infection rate. According to the most recent two-day update there were 359 cases recorded on October 23, 24 bringing the daily infection rate from 120 cases per day to roughly 180 infections. A 50 percent rise in daily infections. The total number of tests conducted in Botswana since the break of the pandemic stood at almost 300,000 tests. Botswana’s total number of recorded cases stood at 6,642 (5,285 residents) with 4,676 recoveries and 585 active cases. 

Botswana recorded 360 cases between October 20 and 22, accounting for 120 cases per day at the time. A significant majority of the latest cases (October 23, 24) were recorded locally (355 cases) while the rest (four cases) were recorded at ports of entry. Of the 359 cases recorded on the two days, 355 were residents while only four were cross border truck drivers.

The fatality rate increased by three from 21 cases. Of the 24 people who succumbed to COVID-19, the youngest was a three months old baby while the eldest was 90. Most of the patients who died from the virus, Mosepele has said, were over the age of 60. He said it was everyone’s responsibility to ensure they protect the vulnerable elders from possible infection by adhering to coronavirus protocols.

Mosepele reiterated in his most recent update that Gaborone remains the epicenter of Botswana’s COVID-19 infections, accounting for a significant majority of cases. Lobatse, Mochudi, Molepolole, Kanye are some of the most affected places. He called on residents to take more responsibility in curbing the spread of the virus. Local transmissions are now at their highest. Mosepele said more needs to be done to flatten the curve. The latest numbers indicate the country is far from flattening of the curve.  The Deputy Coordinator said every region in the country has recorded cases of the virus.

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