Saturday, March 2, 2024

Gov’t error over COVID-19 death costs BOPEU

Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU)’s investment arm Babereki Investments is left to pick up the pieces following the government’s initial failure to correctly identify a COVID-19 positive corpse received by their Ramotswa based mortuary.

The Union are yet to re-open the mortuary which was closed after test results of the deceased indicated she had tested positive for Coronavirus. The matter, at the time, raised questions about Botswana’s readiness to handle the COVID-19 pandemic.All employees who were on duty at the time were placed under a 14 day mandatory quarantine where they await COVID-19 test results.The deceased, who passed on at the Bamalete Lutheran Hospital, was transferred to the Babereki Ka Lorato Funeral Services mortuary in Ramotswa where the death certificate erroneously indicated she was a victim of asthma, a common respiratory health problem.  

Sunday Standard recently reported about the fatal error in Botswana’s testing systems that resulted in the initial false negative diagnosis of the old woman who, it was later revealed, had succumbed to coronavirus.

Babereki Ka Lerato Funeral Services Board Chairperson Martin Gabobake says they had no reason to suspect there was any other cause of death as it is common cause that those who certify the death are by law and practice also obligated to state cause of death.In this particular matter, Gabokake says, it was not disclosed that the deceased had died from Coronavirus hence the deceased was handled by the mortuary like they would any other corpse. The mortuary accounts officer has also been quarantined since he has interacted with the workers. BOPEU has full time mortuaries at; Ramotswa, Thamaga, Gaborone and Molepolole. The Union have since fumigated their Ramotswa mortuary to prepare for return to business.BOPEU have decried loss of business with the management pointing out that they have so far lost over half a million Pula.

“BOPEU continues to pay for salaries of its staff currently on quarantine. With the mortuary currently closed BOPEU has to pay other mortuaries to service its members and members who could under normal circumstances be using the Ramotswa branch.” They say this has come at a huge cost as they also have to pay for interim staff, administrative and operational costs of a mortuary that is closed.


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