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Empty beds sign of victory

THE spectacle of unoccupied beds quickly greets the eyes when one enters wards at centres designated to host Covid-19 patients.

This proves wrong recent claims by some apparently ill-willed quarters that hospitals in the country were overwhelmed by Covid-19 patients.

A survey conducted yesterday by ‘Daily News' in various region’s centres established that cases were dropping dramatically, prompting authorities to close some facilities due to lack of patients.

A spot check in some centres that host Covid-19 patients in Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Mwanza, and Dodoma proved beyond reasonable doubt that the government’s victory in the fight against the pandemic was imminent as some centres currently don't have even a single patient.

Data from two facilities in Dar es Salaam show that for the past one week, each one of them was serving only one remaining patient after several others had recovered.

The Highly Infectious Disease Treatment Unit (HIDTU), which is located near Mloganzila Hospital, is currently hosting only one person.

According to Dr Chaulenzi Malamla, the facility’s Medical Officer in Charge, it has a capacity to accommodate 30 patients, with four beds for intensive care unit and 26 beds for normal wards.

Dr Malamla said that until last month, they were receiving between five and ten patients in a day, but from early this month, a day could pass without receiving any patient.

"It's a month now since we started seeing the situation really changing. As we speak, we have only one patient remaining in the facility for over a week. For a week now, we haven’t got any call to go and pick a patient from anywhere in the city. Now all beds are unoccupied except one," he explained.

Since there was only one patient remaining, the health staff there have decided to spend their time on updating their skills through training and reading professional books.

The situation was similar At the Covid-19 centre at Mwananyamala Regional Referral Hospital.

At the time when the ‘Daily News’ arrived at the hospital, the area for those suspected to Covid-19 patients had only one person while the ward for treating those whose test results were confirmed positive had only patient too.

Doctor-In charge of the hospital, Dr Daniel Nkungu, said the place was initially hosting between 30 and 35 people but currently they hardly receive five people who go for testing.

The hospital allocated two wards for the Covid-19 patients, one for males and the other for females.

Each ward has 16 beds. Interestingly, a similar picture was witnessed in a survey conducted in Dodoma’s Covid-19 centres as all beds were empty with authorities requesting to shut down some isolation facilities.

A spot visit to some facilities showed that there were only two suspected cases of people waiting for their test results.

Dr Alphonce Chandika, Executive Director at the Benjamin Mkapa Hospital said yesterday that the centre that used to receive between 15 and 20 suspected cases had only two individuals.

According to Dr Chandika, before Benjamin Mkapa Hospital started receiving suspected Covid-19 patients, and actual patients it was admitting at least 400 of them daily but during the pandemic the number of people seeking medical care and treatment dropped to nearly 250.

“With a steady decline in the number of Coid-19 cases the hospital is now regaining its momentum recording at least 350 both out and in-patients,” he said.

The director said due to a dramatic decline of cases, the hospital has now closed its isolation facility but selected fewer beds within the hospital for reoccurring COVID-19 emergency cases.

According to the director, the hospital was overwhelmed by suspected cases in mid-April when they registered their first suspect.

"At that moment we considered getting a bigger space to be ready for attending patients... But this never happened since the number fell significantly," he added.

At the Dodoma Regional Referral Hospital, beds were empty. Dr Ibenzi Ernest, the Medical Doctor In-charge told ‘Daily News’ that there had not been new cases beyond the first two cases confirmed some days back.

The health care official said while the hospital had in place a large facility for the purpose, it was now considering transferring resources to other places in need due to absence of patients.

Both Benjamin Mkapa Hospital and Dodoma Regional Hospital reported no infection to their health workers who had been on the frontline in the battle against the corona pandemic.

Dr Ernest said the hospital had maintained the same number of visiting patients ranging between 900 and 1200 a day.

"This is the third week we have not reported any case," he said, hailing President John Magufuli administration.

In Arusha, the region where the first case was registered in mid-March this year, the survey established that the region yesterday registered nine cases of the deadly virus, with some of the designated facilities closing up.

In an interview with ‘Daily News’ yesterday, Regional Medical Officer Dr Aiffelo Sichalwe exuded optimism on the possible decline of new registered cases.

According to the Regional Medical boss, social distancing, mask wearing and contact tracing were the ‘new norm’ in the tourism hotspot, which was the first to record a Covid 19 patient in the country mid-March.

“I’m happy to inform you that Arusha residents are coping well and going about their daily business without any fear of the disease,” he explained.

Giving an account of the designated government facilities, Dr Sichwalwe outlined that there were currently only four patients at Moshono Treatment Centre.

Out of those, three had been put on oxygen while one was to be discharged anytime. The Institute of Accountancy Arusha (IAA) which was converted into a Coronavirus facility back in March, had ceased to serve the purpose after getting no new patients in the past week.

“If anything, the campus is ready to welcome back students in two days’ time,” Dr Sichwalwe delightfully stated.

At the Arusha Lutheran Medical Center (ALMC) holding ground, there were only eight patients, with five being put on oxygen. The regional Mt Meru Hospital had by yesterday only two patients.

The hospital’s management is however mulling plans of converting the Tuberculosis (TB) patients ward into a Coronavirus facility, should there be new such reported cases.

Mt Meru’s Medical in Charge Dr Shafii Msechu confided to ‘Daily News’ that the region will not tolerate any complacency in keeping the deadly virus at bay.

“The two remaining TB patients will be moved to other wards as we continue to keep the disease in check,” he said.

Dofu Hospital in Karatu District had also recorded zero Covid-19 cases, according to the regional medical boss.

In Kilimanjaro Region, the survey noted that life was getting back to normal with Kilimanjaro Regional Health Officer, Dr Jonas Mcharo, saying people were still receiving education on how to curb the spread of the virus.

Commenting on the region's trend as far as the pandemic was concerned, Dr Mcharo said people were still anxious to know their status when necessary while at the same time taking precautions as advised by health authorities.

"There are those who come to check their health status upon suspecting symptoms,” he said.

Health officials within the region were continuing with the process of screening drivers entering the country through the border areas in Kilimanjaro Region as directed by the government.

"We are also continuing with the process of providing education to people to make sure that they take all precautions so as to prevent the spread of virus as well as telling them to be aware of aliens in their respective areas, especially those who they think are from outside the country," he added.

Life is resuming back to normal in the region, as people who had decided to stay at home or take strict measures are now back to their normal business and life is back to what it was before March when Covid-19 made people panicky.

However, in spite of the fact that life is back to normal, many are sustaining the established tradition of washing hands with flowing water and using sanitisers.

THE Tourism Confederation of Tanzania (TCT) has received ...

Mwandishi: DAILY NEWS Reporters

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