Saturday, September 26, 2020

Old Naledi on high alert as nurses, teachers test positive for COVID-19

The community of Gaborone’s Old Naledi township remains at greater risk of COVID-19 infection as more and more nurses continue to test positive for the virus, Sunday Standard has established.

Some nurses at the local clinic are already under institutional quarantine at Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital after contracting COVID-19.

The situation at the clinic got out of control at the clinic following a rash decision by the Gaborone District Health Management Team (DHMT) to convert the clinic into a maternity facility for positive COVID-19 expectant mothers.

Nurses who have been caring for the expectant mothers have consequently begun testing positive for the virus. Sunday Standard has been reliably informed that the clinic was forced by the DHMT to admit the positive patients without prior arrangement and despite the health facility not having an isolation room.

The nurses, who had never dealt with a known positive case nor used personal protective equipment (PPE) were immediately thrown into the deep end without prior demonstration.

“We had to learn on the job,” the nurses told Sunday Standard. Some of their colleagues have since tested positive.

“We asked without success several times for the authorities to send somebody to demonstrate how to use the PPE’s.”

Following contact with the first patient, from Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital, the nurses’ initial requests for testing were turned down. It was not until one of them began displaying symptoms that they were finally tested with some results coming back positive. Despite clear indication that all the nurses at the Old Naledi Clinic were at risk of testing positive for the virus no plans were made to temporarily close the facility.

In fact, only those who tested positive were sent to the hospital while it remained business as usual for those awaiting results.

The remaining nurses continue to care for COVID-19 positive expectant mothers and the Old Naledi community while hoping to remain negative.

Their requests to be provided with accommodation facilities so they can stay away to protect their family members also proved futile. 

Meanwhile the Old Naledi community remain sitting ducks, waiting for the virus to spread.

Community Assessment studies have indicated Old Naledi to be one of the most vulnerable communities for a possibly serious COVID-19 outbreak as a result of the area’s poor living conditions and crowded households.  Those accessing health services at the local clinic are more likely to spread the virus within the community. The nurses’ situation comes at a time when there are reports of an outbreak among teachers at Old Naledi’s Therisanyo Primary School.

At least a dozen teachers were reported to have tested positive for the virus. More tests were expected to be conducted at the school with media reports saying no student had yet tested positive for the virus. Princess Marina Hospital has also reported an outbreak of the virus involving health workers. 

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