By ZWELETHU DLAMINI | 2021-03-21
Projections from the health ministry indicate that the country should brace itself for another spike sometime from end of April to beginning of May as this is the time when there is usually a lot more flue infected people in the country. Defining the wave Director of Health Services Dr Vusi Magagula said it referred to a sudden increase in the number of confirmed positive COVID-19 cases seen in a country, which is followed by a decrease after plateauing at a certain point. Dr Magagula stated that once the number of infections recorded daily reached 40 the ministry would take that as a sign of the wave having started to increase, raising red flags. He said at the moment projections of the third wave may not be released. scenarios Projections show case scenarios which may result from opening of schools, Easter festivities and the seasonal return to work in the sugar belt and others. The director stated that the ministry had learnt many lessons from the first and the second wave and thus they were working around the clock in preparedness of the third wave to ensure that lives are not lost. He said there was increased preparedness for provision of critical care in health facilities. “More healthcare workers have been trained in critical care provision. Also, infection prevention control has been enhanced in our facilities such as Mbabane Government Hospital, Hlathikhulu and Lubombo Referral Hospital. Furthermore, critical care equipment have been re visited, fixed and serviced to ensure it works well in readiness for possible need. Visiting biomedical engineers from WHO and English emergency team came in handy here,” he said. Dr Magagula stated that broken equipment was also fixed and now working well and some equipment such as defibrillators had been purchased for certain facilities which did not have previously. He stated that the completion of the construction of the new ward at the Lubombo Referral Hospital was a milestone in the preparedness.He said this had enabled the ministry to increase the intensive care unit (ICU) beds from eight to 16 and their oxygen ports being installed. The director revealed that there would now be 24 high care beds with oxygen ports added by the bedside even to the paediatric ward. Dr Magagula also revealed that the ministry had enhanced oxygen supply in the country through installation of liquid oxygen tank at the Lubombo Referral Hospital. “Oxygen Surge Capacity is being developed in the country. Lubombo Hospital Liquid Oxygen Tank has been set up to 15 000 litres. We have the potential to fill 120 oxygen cylinders in a day and the tank now directly connected to hospital oxygen lines and supplying the ICU beds. Additional oxygen concentrators have been delivered and distributed to treatment facilities. Healthcare workers have been trained on use of oxygen saving apparatus and much more preparations for the future needs,” he said. Responding on how prepared is the country with regards to personal protection equipment which has been a challenge in the past resulting in some health workers boycotting work, the director said those were currently being stocked up as much as possible, through continued procurement in preparation for the possible outbreak. trying “The ministry is trying to re build the buffer stock that is to enable the readiness for such a possible increase in the numbers of new cases. Some equipment is being stocked up at Central Medical Stores for possible use, such as ventilators, patient monitors, oxygen concentrators, positive airway pressure units and others are now in stock,” he said. Dr. Magagula also revealed that the ministry was in the process of refurbishing the Mavuso COVID-19 isolation centre. “Mavuso COVID-19 isolation centre will be maintained and bed space increased and other logistics are being prepared to possiblly accommodate newly diagnosed following schools opening. Other logistics such as more tents, patient equipment is being prepared,” he revealed. The director also assured the nation that the ministry had beefed up its human resources to fight the third wave. Dr Magagula said contracts of the workers were being renewed for a further period of need to ensure workers are there in the event of need. Responding on the expected impact of the on-going vaccination programme in the fight against COVID-19 the director encouraged Emaswati to be vaccinated as this may also relieve the pressure on the health system. reduce “Vaccinations will reduce the severity of the disease. It will reduce the numbers that need hospitalisation and critical care as well as reduce the number of deaths,” he said.
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