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1ST COVID-19 PATIENT CAUSES PANIC AT TOP HOSPITAL

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MBABANE – The first registered case of the deadly coronavirus disease in the country is said to have caused uneasiness among nurses at the Lubombo Referral Hospital yesterday.


This hospital is one of two facilities that have been identified for the quarantining of patients who have tested positive for the COVID-19, a condition caused by the coronavirus.
The patient, who is a 33-year old woman, was reportedly transferred from a reputable clinic to the referral hospital. Concerns were then reportedly raised by nurses at the referral hospital that they were not ready to receive the patient because they had not been trained.


Also, the nurses are said to have complained that there was no protective clothing given to them to use when attending to such cases.
This was confirmed by Bheki Mamba, president of the Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union (SWADNU), who said even the hospital itself was not ready to receive the patient by the time she was transported there yesterday morning.


He said the room that was identified as the place where patients would be quarantined did not even have a bed.
“Everything is now being done hurriedly. The room is just not proper to accommodate someone who is being quarantined because it doesn’t have its own toilet yet the patient should do everything in isolation to avoid him getting into contact with other people,” Mamba said.


He said with regard to the protective equipment, the ministry had since said it was still going to procure it with the money (E100 million) that has since been passed by parliament. “But the danger with this is that other countries have bought the equipment and the supplier can no longer cope with the demand. This equipment is ordered way in advance to orepare for such outbreaks,” he said.
 Mamba stated that it would be difficult for health care workers to respond to this case because of the lack of equipment and medical supplies.
He said the patient should not just be placed in the isolation or quarantine ward without being offered any medical assistance and just wait for the worst case scenario.
“Apparently, the isolation ward is a problem because there are no toilets to ensure that the patient does everything where she is confined, including bathing and the toilet. All those things are not in place. This then makes it difficult for us to tell nurses to respond to the case because they will simply be exposing themselves since there is no protective equipment,” he said.
Nurses blame govt
He said they were now going to sit down and look at what needed to be done but the most important aspect was to engage with the ministry and government.
“We’ve spoken many times about the issue of equipment and staff shortage but government is failing to cooperate with us to address the challenges of staff, equipment and staff. The issue of coronavirus has been spoken about for quite some time but the ministry only engaged us from yesterday (Friday) after suspecting that the case might return positive as they saw that all signs were pointing in that direction. That’s when the ministry then hurriedly called us to an engagement. They just wanted to pretend to the world that they had engaged us yet really there has been nothing happening on the ground,” he said
Mamba accused the ministry of using money on things that were not helping the situation, instead of training nurses. “The nurses at the referral hospital were calling me yesterday to ask how they were expected to attend to this patient without having been trained. How are they expected to work in that facility without any form of training? Even today (yesterday) they will be afraid to go to the hospital because they haven’t been trained; they haven’t been given information; they’ve not been told what would happen once the client is admitted to the hospital; and they’ve not been engaged.  How are the nurses expected to respond without the information?” he wondered.
He added that they anticipated calling all nurses to a meeting to discuss the way forward in light of the confirmed coronavirus case.
Meanwhile, Minister of Health Lizzy Nkosi acknowledged the challenges but said issues such as the toilet had been addressed and the patient was comfortable using the one that had been made available.
He said in terms of the protective clothing, there was stock for the Emergency Preparedness Response (EPR) Unit but these must be added. He said there were also three doctors who have been trained and were readily waiting to attend to every case that would be brought to the hospital. 

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