1 200 frontline workers battle Covid

According to WHO representative for Namibia, Dr Charles Sagoe-Moses, 1 298 healthcare workers are infected with Covid-19.

13 January 2021 | Health

STAFF REPORTER







WINDHOEK

As healthcare workers continue to bear the brunt of Covid-19, the health ministry has been accused of not doing enough to protect frontline workers and adopting risky patient discharge procedures.

This after the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that at least 1 298 healthcare workers in Namibia have been infected with the virus.

The agency released these results on Monday morning in a statement issued to the media.

WHO representative for Namibia, Dr Charles Sagoe-Moses, said the country recorded a cumulative total of 27 723 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 251 deaths. He said six deaths were reported between Sunday and Monday.

“Up to 23 912 (86%) have recovered, with 3 555 active cases currently. There are 1 298 healthcare workers (4.6%) infected with Covid-19 in the country,” he said.

Lethargic discharge procedure

While the ministry is battling to keep healthcare workers safe, members of the public continue to heap pressure onto the ministry, saying the discharge procedure places a burden on patients who have just recovered.

Ten days after testing positive, infected people are generally considered to have recovered, but have to queue for a ‘discharge certificate’ at the Namibian Health Training Institute.

A journalist from Allgemeine Zeitung, Namibian Sun’s sister publication, has been able to follow the so-called ‘discharge procedure’ for Namibian Covid-19 cases.

He narrated the process:

Coronavirus sufferers are informed relatively quickly as soon as the infection has been confirmed by means of a test.

As the hospitals are currently overrun, patients are primarily asked to self-quarantine at home. The health ministry keeps itself informed through regular telephone calls from a medical team that monitors patients.

At the Namibian Health Training Institute, those who have just recovered, and are often still weak, have to stand in the sun for up to two hours before the health staff issue them with a discharge certificate.

This is done by the patient presenting their identity document and verbally declaring which day their Covid-19 infection had been confirmed.

Upon enquiry about the procedure, health ministry executive director Ben Nangombe was unable to explain why there is no electronic control or tracing system.

There are fears that the current system is open to manipulation as it allows an infected person to discharge him- or herself within 24 hours by simply providing false information.

"We will have to close these gaps in the system," Nangombe said, adding that he was astonished to learn that patients – by simply queuing at another desk – can also acquire a sick leave certificate by declaring how long they want to be on leave for.

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