Gaborone — Patients admitted at Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital did not die due to lack of proper care but because of deteriorating health as a result of complications emanating from underlying conditions, Professor Mosepele Mosepele has said.
The presidential COVID-19 task force deputy coordinator said this Monday against the backdrop of the worsening situation in the country which has seen Botswana recording 300 deaths and 25 392 positive cases as at February 19.
Refuting the lack of care allegations during this week's update, Professor Mosepele said it was unfortunate that most of the patients under intensive care and breathing with the assistance of ventilator machines, died in the process.
Some developed fibrosis and blood clots in the lungs and therefore had breathing difficulties as a result of lack of oxygen supply to vital organs, he explained.
Professor Mosepele said as a result of the damage to the lungs, the ventilator machine would not be able to provide the body with enough oxygen.
He said some patients recovered from COVID-19 but remained with different long term health complications and therefore it was not surprising that they passed on even though declared non-infectious.
"About 70 to 80 per cent of COVID-19 patients are released after 10 days, but some die as a result of health conditions that were triggered by the COVID-19 infection," he said.
Professor Mosepele said even though it had been proven that the virus became redundant after 10 days some patients, despite being non-infectious, had to spend an extended period under health care due to other emanating health challenges.
Professor Mosepele revealed that as a result of testing positive to COVID-19, some patients developed other health challenges and therefore needed care beyond the 10-day period.
He suggested that individuals testing positive be subjected to thorough counselling.
"I believe they get traumatised when getting the news that they tested positive to COVID-19, more especially that the disease is something that we are not used to," he said adding some even got more traumatised when transferred from home quarantine to a health facility.
Stating that the corona virus was spread across the country, Prof Mosepele said most of the COVID-19 positive cases were recorded at highly populated localities such as Gaborone, Francistown, Selebi Phikwe, Maun, Mochudi and Molepolole.
He said non-compliance to measures aimed at containing the disease as well as failure to adapt to the new normal remained causes for concern.
"We must be aware that gathering at funerals no longer serves its purpose of consoling the grieved family, but rather poses a risk of spreading the coronavirus," he said.
Professor Mosepele said measures put in place to contain the disease would not succeed if not augmented by community efforts.
He said restricting night time movement was one of the positive measures of curbing the spread of the pandemic but observed that unnecessary gatherings, where COVID-19 protocols were not observed during the day were a challenge.
He observed that most COVID-19 casualties were the elderly because they were at the forefront of family activities such as funerals and weddings.
He therefore advised the elders to assign the young and healthy to be at the forefront and always observe COVID-19 protocols.
On the new variant, he said testing did not check for 501V2 in all the cases and therefore it was difficult to tell the exact number of cases and deaths resulting from it.
"All I know is that the 501V2 variant has the habit of spreading faster and become dominant, surpassing the other variant which was already there. We are currently experiencing the worst surge in the spread of COVID-19 and therefore one may assume that the variant is dominant," he said.
Professor Mosepele also said schools were not a reason for an outbreak of the disease explained that most of the cases recorded at institutions of learning emanated from the outside environment.
"Therefore we must emphasise on compliance at home. I believe our schools are doing their best in complying to the new normal," he said.
He said 2 319 cases were still active, 22 773 had recovered while a total of 778 246 COVID-19 tests had been conducted to date.
Source : BOPA