Medical students aggrieved over Covid case

Shared exam room, accommodation facilities

15 December 2020 | Health

HENRIETTE LAMPRECHT







WINDHOEK

The University of Namibia's School of Medicine (SOM) is negotiating with aggrieved fifth-year medical students about a proposal to move their exams to next year.

This after a student tested positive for Covid-19 in the north of the country, where the student doctors were placed at the Onandjokwe and Oshakati state hospitals.

The students claim that their infected peer wrote an exam with them and shared accommodation facilities and an exam room, thus exposing them.

The university’s spokesperson, John Haufiku, however, denied that the students were intentionally made to write along with the infected student.

"The student received her positive results on the day of the examination. When the student found out, she had already taken the exam. She immediately informed management and all precautions were taken in line with the national health and safety guidelines," he said.

Through the grapevine

According to Haufiku, the university is sympathetic to the aggrieved students’ plight and management will consider the academic implications as well as the possibility that the virus will still be present in the first half of next year.

"The University of Namibia remains committed to making a decision that is academically responsible and guarantees the health and safety of our students," he said. Management was set to meet yesterday.

Meanwhile, the students say they found out from a security guard that a fellow student tested positive and that no official notice was released by the university.

"We share facilities, from toilets to the kitchen. We also have small study groups and are transported by bus to the examination venue,” a student said.

Some of the students have now allegedly started developing Covid-19 symptoms.

Allegations have also been made that the students do not need to be tested.

"We are now conducting clinical examinations with some of the students at the Oshakati State Hospital and others at the state hospital in Onandjokwe. We can infect patients. After the exams on Friday, we go back to our families who can also be infected.”

Allegations galore

Another allegation that has been making the rounds is that the SOM wants the clinical exams to be completed as planned on Friday because the plane tickets for the external examiner have already been paid for.

The group of students has now arranged for mass testing because "we are all not only exposed to the first confirmed case, but also other developing cases".

Covid-19 results are only available three or four days after testing.

According to regulations, this means the students must now self-isolate until they receive their results.

Furthermore, according to the students, neither the accommodation facilities nor the exam room have since been disinfected.

Don’t ‘abandon your duty’

Meanwhile, in a letter by school of public health dean, professor Kabwebwe Honore Mitonge, students have been reminded that they are being trained as healthcare practitioners.

"What are you going to do when you graduate? Are you going to run away from health facilities and abandon your duty in the face of an outbreak?" he asked.

Mitonge said the exams would continue as normal and would be completed on a one-to-one basis with Covid-19 measures followed.

To those who may have been exposed, he said a special exam application would be evaluated on an individual basis and on merit, provided that all supporting documents such as a medical certificate and positive Covid-19 results are submitted.