39 health workers test positive for Covid-19

05 August 2020 | Health

JEMIMA BEUKES



WINDHOEK

To date, 39 healthcare workers have tested positive for the coronavirus, putting Namibia’s Covid-19 response under pressure.

On Monday and Tuesday alone, six healthcare workers tested positive for the virus.

This was confirmed in the latest situation report dated 31 July, which highlighted inadequate human resources in the regions as one of the main challenges.

The report also stated that a total of 1 280 confirmed Covid-19 patients are yet to be placed into isolation facilities in Erongo.

Other challenges include inadequate intensive care unit (ICU) facilities and ICU equipment in referral hospitals as well as a shortage of high-care units in district hospitals.

Chronic shortage

The report also highlighted inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as a chronic shortage of nasopharyngeal swabs and appropriate transport.

In addition, it stated that the prolonged turnaround time of tests from the Namibia Institute of Pathology remains a challenge.

These issues are raised at a time when World Health Organisation (WHO) Africa has warned about the increasing risk of Covid-19 infections amongst healthcare workers in the subregion.

10 000 infections

In a recent online press conference, WHO Africa regional director, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said more than 10 000 health workers have been infected with the deadly virus in sub-Saharan Africa.

“One infection amongst health workers is one too many,” Moeti said.

She added the biggest contributing factor to this is the global shortage of PPE.

Meanwhile, ?country director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in Namibia, Dr Eric Dziuban, said a range of measures must be put in place to protect health workers.

According to him, what works in stopping the virus from spreading in health facilities and keeping healthcare workers safe includes limiting the people entering a facility.

“No unnecessary visitors and also avoiding elective surgeries when hospitals are dealing with many Covid cases. Secondly, supplying and correctly using the right PPE... And finally, monitoring staff for symptoms to make sure nobody is coming to work while sick. These steps have been shown around the world to keep our health workers and facilities safe,” he said.

At risk

The latest SADC Covid-19 response report highlighted that additional challenges faced by medical frontline workers include stress and burnout.

“Evidence shows that caregivers experience physical symptoms such as headaches, difficulty sleeping and eating, behavioural symptoms such as low motivation to work, increased use of alcohol or drugs, disengaging from religious and spiritual practices or emotional symptoms such as fear, sadness and anger,” the report said.

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