Bulawayo’s Rapid Response Team has taken coronavirus samples from 21 people in the city since the first suspect case was reported at the end of February.
City officials have also made follow-ups on 1 125 visitors who came into Bulawayo via the country`s ports of entry from areas with confirmed COVID-19 cases and possibly active local transmission.
This was disclosed by the city mayor, Councillor Solomon Mguni on Wednesday at the full council meeting.
He said Bulawayo’s rapid response teams were activated on February 27, 2020, which is when the first rumour was received and have been making follow-ups to date.
“The number of people who have been followed up (by the Rapid Response Team) under this have been 36, while 21 (test) specimens have been collected.
“11 results came back negative and 10 are pending, (having been sent between March 30 and 31, 2020). It should be noted that the turnaround time of the national microbiology reference laboratory has been approximately 48 hours,” the mayor said.
Mguni highlighted that the city has also been conducting travellers’ surveillance from February to March 2020.
“There was a noticeable increase in the influx of travellers reported by the ports of entry from February 2020 with 498 to March 2020 where there were 627. The total number of visitors that have come into Bulawayo from areas with confirmed COVID-19 cases and possibly active local transmission is 1 125,” he said.
“100 percent of all travellers that came into the country during February 2020 have been followed up at least once and are all asymptomatic (of a condition or a person) producing or showing no symptoms). The list of travellers that came into the country during March 2020 was received at the end of this past week and has a total of 627 travellers that are currently followed up by city’s environmental health practitioners.”
The mayor noted public health surveillance activities were in place to assist in the early detection, monitoring, prediction and prevention of human illness.
“As at yesterday, the city of Bulawayo does not have any cases of people who have tested positive to the COVID-19 virus. We are grateful to God for his mercy in keeping us. We appreciate our emergency preparedness team that has been active on the ground conducting surveillance, tests and also conducting health education to the members of the public,” he said. These teams have been assisting in the interpretation of data to facilitate both prevention and control of diseases.
“Surveillance has been conducted in several ways. The city through the emergency preparedness team has been conducting event-based surveillance where we have been making a follow up of ad-hoc reports and rumours about events that are a potential risk to the public health in light of COVID-19,” Mguni explained.
He added that city officials continued to implement protective factors to reduce the general risk of transmission.
“These include activities such as contact tracing, active case finding, intensified shop inspections, health education on key messages that include self-isolation, social distancing, and hygiene practices; with special emphasis on the importance of staying at home to break the chain of transmission.”
Recently, City of Bulawayo Assistant Director of Health Services, Dr Khulamuzi Nyathi, confirmed Thorngrove Infectious Diseases Hospital, which is the southern regions` designated isolation centre, had on several occasions admitted individuals with suspected COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the Bulawayo City Council has implemented the measures set out in the statutory instrument 83 of 2020, [public health (COVID-19 prevention, containment and treatment) (national lockdown) order, 2020].
This states that: local government organisations providing essential services such as hospital services, fire brigade and ambulance services, sewerage or sanitary services and supply and distribution of water are to remain open during the 21-day countrywide lockdown to make sure there was smooth provision of municipal services.
“We further advise members of the public that while the services are available, they are at a minimal extent to reduce staff burn out and also to minimise staff risk of the COVID-19 virus. To make sure there is smooth running of the health care system in Bulawayo, our health services staff are available throughout this period and are working hard to make sure we are not affected by the scourge,” the mayor noted.