With the holidays over, the touristy city of Victoria Falls is moving to curb the spike in cases which may have resulted from excess unrestricted movement in December.
Steven Bafana (55) of Mkhosana is one of many health seekers whose access to medical services has been affected by the ongoing 30-day lockdown announced early in the month.
Bafana, a businessperson who operates a small grocery shop, is recovering from stroke and has been attending physiotherapy sessions.
He is also hypertensive and should regularly visit Victoria Falls Hospital for blood pressure check-ups, an exercise hampered by the lockdown.
“I have been going for check-ups although I have reduced frequency lately because I am recovering. I also need to get tablets for hypertension but this has been a nightmare lately because of entry restrictions to the hospital,” says Bafana who struggles to walk because of weak legs.
The COVID-19 response team in Victoria Falls has introduced home deliveries for medical prescriptions and medicines to patients as a way of containing a fresh wave of infections—a welcome development for patients like Bafana.
The COVID-19 response team has identified Vine, Victoria Falls, Chinotimba Medical Chemist, Trinity and Your Pharmacy to do door-to-door services to patients, including those in self-isolation.
There are over 100 positive active cases in Victoria Falls and most are self-isolating at home, according to health officials.
Bafana says he received the message that he could be assisted from home.
“I am told I can get a prescription done and receive medication while I am at home. This is a welcome development, as it will protect us from the spread of coronavirus and also minimize travel,” Bafana says.
Acting Hwange District Medical Officer Dr Selleman Saidi has encouraged residents to use the service to remain self-isolated and prevent new infections.
“To date, in Victoria Falls we have recorded over 300 cumulative cases, a third of the cases in Matabeleland North. There are over 90 active cases in the community with more testing positive every day.”
Saidi says considering this constant increase in numbers, anyone who has had contact with anyone known or suspected to be COVID-19 positive should self-isolate at home for the recommended 14-days.
“We have engaged with local pharmacies to start home delivery of prescriptions especially for COVID-19 positive patients. As soon as a patient gets results through formal channels, they can contact the Ministry of Health and Child Care doctor or nurse or their preferred doctor in private practice to send prescriptions to these pharmacies,” says Dr Selleman Saidi, Acting Hwange District Medical Officer.
From here, the pharmacy has a responsibility to contact the patient and arrange for payment and delivery.
Matabeleland North Provincial Medical Director Dr Munekayi Padingani says home deliveries are only available to those with prescriptions signed by a registered health official.
“Pharmacies are only delivering if there is a prescription signed by a doctor. This home delivery method is to make sure there is no further risk as we just want to reduce transmission,” says Dr Padingani.
The country has no COVID-19 vaccine as yet while there is no concrete date for roll-out of vaccines.
National Covid-19 taskforce coordinator, Dr Agnes Mahomva has indicated that the government is in the process of procuring vaccines and roll-out plans are underway.
Pharmacies are currently giving recommended medicines that minimise effects of COVID-19 on positive patients, while the use of traditional herbs and homemade concoctions has also become popular.
Health officials say Victoria Falls is slowly turning into a COVID-19 hotspot following an influx of locals and returning citizens for the holidays in the resort town in December.
The Victoria Falls City Council also recently temporarily shut down and opened online payment methods for ratepayers after some employees tested positive.
Dr Padingani says the opening of borders in December resulted in the current infections rate.
“We opened borders in December and our province by nature has many people residing outside the country and many came to visit. There was no testing at the border and this is why we have all these cases. Hwange district is leading in the province because we have mining communities which are crowded by nature,” adds Dr Padingani.
As of 25 January, Matabeleland North had 1 124 cumulative cases, 545 of them active and 12 deaths.
Source: The Citizen Bulletin