Thursday, July 2, 2020

GPH exposes Botswana’s Covid-19 weakest link

Botswana private hospitals and clinics may be put off from testing patients for coronavirus after Gaborone Private Hospital (GPH)’s trailblazing testing drive backfired last week.Public health officials around the world have agreed that testing and contact tracing are vital to containing the coronavirus pandemic. Sunday Standard investigations have however turned up information that Gaborone Private Hospital is the only hospital in Botswana which tests all its patients for coronavirus in line with international best practice.

Bokamoso Private hospital has also initiated a testing regime, but is limited to staff and does not extend to patients. GPH last week paid dearly for pioneering the aggressive testing of patients in Botswana. The Minister of Health and Wellness on Friday ordered the closure of GPH after their patient testing drive turned up Botswana’s eight new Covid-19 cases. Sunday Standard can reveal that had the eight patients gone to any of Botswana’s public or private hospitals, they would most likely not have been tested for the virus, saving Botswana from last week’s bump. This fits into the national pattern, in which Botswana’s token Covid-19 testing has lulled the country a false sense of security.

A few days after Botswana emerged from its lockdown last week’s outbreaks which topped a dozen cases illustrated Botswana’s challenge of keeping the virus contained despite the relatively small number of reported cases.Gaborone was immediately placed under lock down, the second time in two weeks, GPH and Stanbic Bank Fairground were temporarily closed over what government said was possible COVID-19 exposure.A statement signed by coordinator of the presidential task force, Kereng Masupu said the GPH and Stanbic Bank branch at Fairgrounds were to remain shut till further notice.

It added that “all staff, patients and visitors of these facilities between 8th June and 12th June, should immediately self-quarantine for 14 days” and call a toll-free number in case they needed any assistance.“While further investigations are ongoing, the Contact Tracing Team will also communicate with those who have visited the hospital and bank, and are deemed to require further medical attention,” it added.

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Sunday Standard June 28 – 4 July

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of June 28 - 4 July, 2020.