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MANZINI – The Raleigh Fitkin Memorial (RFM) Hospital is operating with 26 men down and staff members support the call to close the facility.

This is because 26 staff members, including nurses and support staff members, have been put in self-isolation.  This follows the fact that they were in direct contact with patients who were later confirmed to be positive for COVID-19.
The patients include the woman who gave birth to twins last week and COVID-19 case number 15 in the country.


A source close to the matter said after the woman was confirmed to be positive, a total of 24 workers, including nurses and support staff, were tested and put in self-isolation for 14 days.
“Again, when the man, who is case number 15, was confirmed to be positive of the virus, two workers, including his wife, were tested and put in self-isolation,” the source said.

In that regard, the workers, especially nurses at the hospital, said they fully support the call by their union, the Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union (SWADNU), to close the facility, fumigate all wards and departments and also test all the staff members.

They said this was because currently, the ministry considered testing and isolating staff members who had direct contact with a patient who had been confirmed positive for coronavirus.

“The ministry disregards those who had indirect contact with the COVID-19 positive patient. This is regardless of the fact that those who had indirect contact with the patient will be regarded as direct contacts if those who were assisting the positive patient test positive,” the workers argued.
On the other hand, the Minister of Health, Lizzie Nkosi, said RFM Hospital, especially the Maternity Ward, was decontaminated last week. She said the decontamination was done after the woman who gave birth to twins was evacuated to Lubombo Referral Hospital.

“The ward has been cleaned and is safe to use,” the minister said.
On top of that, the minister said all those who were in contact with the COVID-19 positive woman, were screened and sent to self-isolate.
Furthermore, she said all the workers at RFM Hospital were being tested as the teams work on contact-tracing.
In that regard, the minister said there was no reason to shutdown the hospital.

This publication also gathered that since some of the hospital’s nursing staff was in self-isolation, government, through the Ministry of Health had deployed five of the newly-hired nurses, to the facility.


However, RFM Hospital Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Benjamin Simelane said they needed more nurses because the ongoing contact- tracing might see more nurses being put in self-isolation.
On another note, the CEO pleaded with their patients to be open to the medical staff. For instance, he said if a patient had been tested by the Ministry of Health for COVID-19, it meant that he/she had contact with a COVID-19 positive person and that made him/her a suspected case.

 He said such people should open up to the medical practitioners so that they could protect themselves.
“I am aware that some people might be afraid to do so because of stigma issues, but I encourage them to trust the health workers,” the CEO said.

SWADNU made the call for the RFM Hospital to be closed on Tuesday. It said after being closed, the whole hospital should be fumigated, while staff members should be tested for COVID-19 before the facility could be reopened.

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