Botswana is currently crumbling under a relentless onslaught of its third wave of COVID-19.
Updating Parliament on the situation on Wednesday this week, the Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness, Sethomo Lelatisitswe, painted a gloomy picture of a nation under siege by a pandemic that is taking an ever-rising toll on lives and wrecking the economy on all fronts.
The junior minister told MPs that there is shortage of hospital beds at both public and private health facilities. In the grim depiction of the situation, Scottish Livingstone Hospital in Molepolole has 17 patients out of its 22 bed capacity, Nyangabgwe Referral Hospital in Francistown has 47 patients out of its 16 bed capacity, Princess Marina Referral Hospital in Gaborone has 86 patients out of its 83 bed capacity, while Mahalapye Hospital has 22 patients out of 20 bed capacity.
According to the minister, Gaborone Private Hospital (GPH) is at full capacity with all its 25 beds occupied while Sidilega Private Hospital in Gaborone is at 17 patients out of a 20 bed capacity. A source at GPH has confirmed that the hospital is full and disclosed that ongoing renovation at the medical ward has limited the hospital’s ability to provide services.
The Business Weekly & Review is reliably informed that general patients there are being attended to at an emergency ward which is split into two for Persons Under Investigation (PUI) for suspected COVID-19 cases and COVID-19 Confirmed Cases. Before the facility became overburdened, COVID-19 patients came for treatment and where discharged thereafter save for critically ill patients.
Information gathered by The Business Weekly & Review is that since medical aids offered to cover COVID-19 expenses, demand for services at GPH increased, worsening its capacity that was already diminishing owing partly to renovations at least one ward.
Sources say since the outbreak of the Delta strain, the hospital has witnessed a stream of unstable patients in need of admission, hence GPH is bursting at the seams.
According to Reuters News, Botswana has reached 97 percent peak even though infections are still on the rise. The report says the country’s 7-day rolling period averaged 510 infections per 100 000 people.
However, Botswana’s COVID-19 updates are given on Mondays and Thursdays and the latest statistics had not been made public at the time of going to press.
In the midst of the unprecedented toll on lives across the country, fingers are being pointed at the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the COVID-19 Task Force for failing Batswana.
The country is currently in the second phase of its National Vaccine Deployment Plan. This week, the health ministry announced that that it would commence to immunise people who fall under this category on 22 July.
“In view of this development, the ministry will on 22 July 2021 proceed to vaccinate those falling in the Phase Two category, specifically starting with those aged 45 to 54,” it said in a statement. “The reason for not inviting the whole Phase Two cohort at a go is to avoid congestion at vaccination sites.
“The ministry therefore advises adults aged 45 to 54 to register and visit their nearest vaccination site with effect from 22 July 2021. Vaccination sites will be open from 0730hrs to 1630hrs from Monday to Friday across the country. Any change in these times will be communicated.”
The full range of Phase Two covers ages 30-54 years.