At least two employees of a cleaning services company engaged by Sir Ketumile Masire Hospital have tested positive for Coronavirus in the line of duty, Sunday Standard has established. The two employees and colleagues with whom they had come into contact have been placed under quarantine following the discovery.
The company premises were on Friday swarming with job seekers looking to replace those still under isolation.
The company Operations Manager (name withheld) would not entertain questions from this publication instead referring our enquiries to the COVID-19 Task Force.
“We are not in a position to answer such questions. It is only the Task team that can respond to your questions,” he said. An employee who spoke to Sunday Standard said they had raised concerns about the company’s failure to provide employees with personal protective clothing (PPE).
The reported positive cases raise concerns about the safety of those working in the frontline against the pandemic. Efforts to get answers from the COVID-19 Task Force proved futile as they would not respond to Sunday Standard questions.
The Task Force have always hid behind the Doctor/patient confidentiality to avoid disclosing information about Coronavirus cases.
Coordinator of the Task Force Dr Kereng Masupu told the nation last week that Botswana’s confirmed cases stood at 522 cases. The country recorded the highest number of any given day on Wednesday July 15 with a record 50 confirmed cases. The only ever recorded case involving a frontline worker was that of a Block 8 Clinic nurse who has since challenged the positive diagnosis at the courts. Since then the Task Force have been cagey with information about specific cases citing patient, doctor confidentiality.
The nurse made demands that the Ministry of Health furnish him with signed results by the person who carried out the laboratory tests.
His results were delivered during a special parliament sitting in April with the positive diagnosis leading to all Members of Parliament and those who attended the session undergoing a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
According to legal documents the nurse was admitted at Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital on the 9th of April after he was told he tested positive.
“On the 13th he demanded to see his results but was sent from pillar to post and the hospital could not give him the results. He kept on demanding his results and on the 19th of April he was shown the results through his glass door from outside by a doctor,” the local media reported. The nurse reportedly asked for a copy of the results but the Doctor said he would revert to him after consulting with his superiors. He was eventually given his results when he was discharged on the April.24, 2020. There was no explanation of the results and the document was also not signed leading to his suspicion that the results were not authentic.
The World Health Organization has called for frontline workers to be regularly tested for Covid-19 whether they are showing symptoms or not.
All staff across providing services to COVID-19 facilities should have frequent tests to ensure the safety of patients and other healthcare workers.
Those fighting in the frontlines and regularly working in close contact with COVID-19 patients, WHO has said, should be tested themselves to prevent further spread with potentially grave consequences.