Thursday, March 19, 2020

Swaziland hospital thrown into confusion as suspected coronavirus patient admitted

The Mbabane Government Hospital in Swaziland (eSwatini) was thrown into confusion when a patient suspected of having the coronavirus was admitted.

Nurses and other health workers at the hospital did not have protective clothing and refused to treat the patient.

Other patients and visitors ran for cover, according to a report in the Swaziland News, an online newspaper. Kitchen staff also withdrew themselves so patients had nothing to eat for most of the day, the Times of eSwatini reported.

It happened on Tuesday night (17 March 2020) and during Wednesday, the Times reported. All types of patient, including those needing routine checks were abandoned.

It reported, ‘Some of the people looking after their relatives in the ward found themselves assuming the duties of nurses as they had to assist most of the patients with going to the rest rooms, among other things.’

Patients and nurses run for cover at Mbabane Hospital. Picture: Swaziland News

Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union (SWADNU) President Bheki Mamba told the Times nurses feared for their lives. ‘He said he was informed by the medical personnel from the Mbabane Government Hospital that doctors who admitted the patient had high suspicions that she had contracted COVID-19 [coronavirus] but continued to admit her,’ it added.

The Times reported, ‘The president said when getting the explanation, it became apparent that the hospital had not prepared any isolation for suspected cases. “It shows that the hospital was not ready for receiving such a patient,” said Mamba.’

It added, ‘Mamba said due to the seriousness of the matter, the healthcare workers then resolved to down tools as there was no protective equipment including gloves, masks, sanitizers or anything else that could prevent them from being exposed to infection.’

The Times reported, ‘Mamba said healthcare workers therefore feared for their lives and could not work without protective equipment.’

Director of Health Services, Dr Vusi Magagula, said he was awaiting hospital management to give him a full report before he would comment.

King Mswati III, the absolute monarch of Swaziland, declared a national emergency on Tuesday. Schools, colleges and universities are closed indefinitely and gatherings of 50 or more people are banned. Travel restrictions are in place.

On Wednesday the Royal Eswatini Police Service (REPS) said it would be checking to make sure people complied with the orders.

In a statement it also said it would check on businesses to make sure they were following guidelines to stop the spread of the virus. ‘Police will be constantly checking business centres to ensure that there is strict compliance,’ the statement read in part.

Elsewhere, the Swaziland Local Transport Association National Chairman Mandla Dlamini urged public transport providers to disinfect vehicles and the hands of every passenger.

See also

Swaziland nurses refuse to treat patients until they get protective equipment

Swaziland King declares state of emergency over coronavirus. Schools closed, foreign travel suspended

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