With Covid -19 cases continuing to rise in Manicaland, the free Covid-19 testing facilities being offered by the City of Mutare have tremendously reduced the burden on the Victoria Chitepo Provincial Hospital which has been the main testing centre for patients in the city.
This had resulted in the institution becoming overwhelmed and failing to offer adequate health services to the people.
Mutare City Council in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Child Care last week started offering free Rapid Diagnostic Antigen Test at several sites across the city. This is in addition to other testing centres already established at various clinics and hospitals across the province.
The free screening and testing came at a time when most people could not afford going to private laboratories that charge as much as US$60 for obtain a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test.
Manicaland Provincial Medical Director Dr Simon Nyadundu said the objectives of opening free testing sites was to bring testing closer to the people, increase access to testing by increasing testing sites numerically, reduce the risk of COVID 19 transmission by symptomatic suspects, reduce the turnaround of the results and to decongest the provincial hospital and clinics.
“People who are under lockdown people are expected to be staying at home. The restricted movement means a person with symptoms cannot easily travel to a testing centre which is far. These testing centres remove the cost of transport as people can walk to sites within the vicinity of their residential areas. This also allows for the health care workers to assess the suitability of home isolation for anyone who tests positive as well as contact tracing and family engagement,” said Dr Nyadundu.
Dr Nyadundu said the use of public transport by a symptomatic person increases the risk of infecting other people and propagating the epidemic.
He said the Provincial hospital was not supposed to be offering Covid 19 testing but offering health care to patients requiring specialist services.
“With alternative testing sites, fewer people will patronise the provincial hospital just for testing for COVID 19 thus protecting other risk persons with chronic diseases, elderly or reduced immunity,” he said.
He said the testing sites also offer an opportunity for referring integrated outreach services were other services like malaria testing and treatment can be added.
However, there have been concerns that some residents were trying to tried to take advantage of the facility to get free Covid 19 certificates for various reasons like travel, to present at work or to check if they have truly recovered for Covid -19
Manicaland has so far recorded 3326 Covid 19 positive cases and 152 deaths. A total 2279 people have recovered from the disease, leaving the province with 895 active cases.
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