Six of the 20 deaths now attributed to Covid-19 were originally put down to other causes, but as part of the policy of testing in all relevant deaths in post-mortem procedures, it had now been found to be the result of Covid-19 infection, the Ministry of Health and Child Care has said.
Responding to questions yesterday on the increase in Covid-19 deaths in recent days, as well as those confirmed only after a post-mortem, Dr Isaac Phiri said it was Government’s surveillance policy to investigate all deaths that occur within a health institution or communities.
“Zimbabwe has reported a total of 20 deaths since the start of Covid-19 outbreak with only six of the cases being detected through post-mortem. It is a ministry surveillance policy that any death that occurs in hospital or in the community is tested for Covid-19 so these six deaths have been detected during post-mortem as deaths are also rising.
“The cause of death for most of these cases have been attributable to other chronic diseases despite the deceased being positive for Covid-19,” said Dr Phiri.
With more test kits and testing facilities available, Government is now stepping up testing to include all patients admitted to a hospital, along with all people with fevers, contacts of infected people, and others where there are reasons to suspect possible infection.
Infected people can only infect others in a narrow range of days. An infected person with symptoms is considered fully cured 13 days after the onset of symptoms and an infected person without symptoms is cured after 10 days.
One of the cases that sparked debate on why cases were being confirmed through post-mortem involved a Westgate hairdresser who died over the weekend, but was only confirmed to have died of Covid-19 through a post mortem.
There are social media reports that other infections are linked to this person.
While a substantial majority of the 1 064 cases confirmed so far are among returning citizens and residents infected outside Zimbabwe, local transmissions have been rising, including transmission among health workers, especially in cases where an infected patient was diagnosed with other illnesses on admission.
Bulawayo province has been hard hit in terms of health workers testing positive with scores of nurses being confirmed infected at United Bulawayo Hospitals and Mpilo Central Hospital after coming into contact with infected patients, who had been brought to referral hospitals rather than infectious diseases hospitals, where isolation is far easier during the 10 or days such a patient can infect others.