At least nine student nurses at Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo are in self-isolation after testing positive for COVID-19.
Sources at the hospital told CITE that the institution began testing all student nurses last Thursday and continued with the exercise Tuesday.
"So far there are about nine confirmed (positive cases) though they may be more," said one of the sources.
"At the moment the students are self-isolating in their rooms waiting for further instructions from authorities. The administration is hiding the statuses because right now it's mostly students in the wards and newly appointed nurses who started employment just this month."
This is happening at a time when the majority of nurses are on an industrial action pressing for better working conditions.
The source said the morale was now low among student nurses with their work environment now characterised by stigma and suspicion.
However, Mpilo Central Hospital acting chief executive officer, Dr Solwayo Ngwenya, said he was not aware of that.
"Go and talk to the Bulawayo City Health, they are the ones dealing with surveillance of the people," said Dr Ngwenya.
"What you are saying, I have not heard of it, ok." he said.
However, Bulawayo City Council (BCC) director of Health Services, Dr Edwin Sibanda, confirmed that some students nurses have tested positive for COVID-19.
"There are student nurses that tested positive but I have to confirm the numbers and whether they are from Mpilo or UBH," he told CITE.
"I cannot give you the exact statistics. I also get details from the testing teams."
He further explained: "All hospitals have their rapid response teams, who are trained and assisted by the City Council to do testing internally. So they collect samples and send them to a laboratory which is housed at Mpilo Hospital. After the testing has been done, results are sent to the people and obviously we are copied the results. However, when we get the results, they do not tell us whether this is a student nurse until we ask."
Dr Sibanda said they only get to know the exact details of patients as they follow them in isolation.
Meanwhile, the source said Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) for the staff remained a challenge at the hospital despite claims by authorities that the referral institution has enough.
"They (hospital administrators) should know that PPE is essential," he said.
"There is no need to wait for people to order but they should make it readily available always especially to key departments like Casualty which caters for all patients some who may not present with Covid-19 signs but may already be positive."
He said to minimise risks, members of the public visiting the hospital should keep their masks on.
"They should start from their local clinics if they are sick, not rush to central hospitals," he said.
"If it's COVID signs they should call the rapid response team. We are on their side, but they also should help us help them otherwise we will lose the fight against Covid-19."
Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology