Corpse spends three days in ward

Corpse spends three days in ward

MASERU-THE corpse of a suspected Covid-19 patient spent three days in a Mokhotlong hospital ward because health workers were too terrified to remove it, the High Court heard yesterday.

The shocking revelation was heard during an urgent application filed by the Coalition of Health Professionals (CHP) in which they want the court to endorse their right to stay away from work.
The workers say they must be allowed to stay away from work until the government provides them with protective gear.
The CHP said the “health workers were scared to enter the ward” and remove the corpse.

The case vividly captures the rampant fears among health workers in dealing with Covid-19 cases.
It could also be a sneak peek of what could lie ahead for Lesotho if nothing is done to stop the spread of Covid-19.
The health workers, who downed tools on Monday, want the government to urgently provide them with personal protective clothing to combat the disease.

In an affidavit presented to the court, CHP President Ngqabuthu Mothibe said when the National Covid-19 Secretariat (Nacosec) was informed of the situation “it did nothing to remedy the situation” until after three days.
The patient died in Mokhotlong Hospital.

The CHP spokesman, Dr Mojakisane Ramafikeng, told thepost last night that the patient had recently travelled from South Africa and had symptoms of Covid-19.
His family, on seeing the symptoms, rushed him to the hospital where he later died.
“That hospital, like many others in the districts, has no capacity to manage Covid-19 cases,” Dr Ramafikeng said.
“The Nacosec was called but unfortunately it went there after three days,” he said.

“It is not only Mokhotlong, many other hospitals have similar problems.”
Dr Ramafikeng said even at the Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital, Lesotho’s national health facility, Nacosec was delaying to attend to suspected Covid-19 cases.
He said it was also not clear if family members were immediately followed up to be tested after their interactions with their deceased relative.
The Nacosec spokesman, Tumisang Mokoai, could not be reached for comment at the time of going to the print last night.

Meanwhile, Minico Mothibeli, 38, who had been placed in isolation after showing Covid-19 symptoms, died in a Mafeteng hospital this week.
The family has accused the hospital and its staff of gross negligence.
The family said there is no indication that health workers attended to Mothibeli at the Mafeteng quarantine facility until she died.

Her sister, ’Marelebohile Shoahle, said Mothibeli went to see her doctor at one hospital in Maseru for an operation.
But the doctor told her that the operation could not proceed because she was having difficulties breathing.
Shoahle said the doctor referred her late sister to Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Maseru for Covid-19 tests.

She said the doctors confirmed that she had Covid-19 symptoms and she was immediately transferred to Mafeteng Hospital for quarantine.
When the family went to visit her, they were told it was not possible to see her since she was now in isolation.
Shoahle said they went back and called her on her phone. She told them she was feeling cold and wanted something to warm herself up.
But when they took a heater to the hospital the nurses refused to allow them to drop it for her.

Shoahle said the doctor told them that their sister was critically ill.
“The doctor told us that there was no oxygen and the plugs were off,” she said.
She insisted that the family should have been allowed to see their sister when her health deteriorated.
This was in spite of the restrictions placed by the Ministry of Health on all Covid-19 patients.

Shoahle said the doctor told them that her sister had TB and that it had been diagnosed late. She said they then demanded that their sister be transferred to another hospital where she could be given oxygen.
But they failed.
She said they later discovered that the plugs were purposely put off because some staff members were ordered to switch on the plugs.
Shoahle said her sister called her in the middle of the night and they prayed together asking God to save her.
“I told her not to despair,” she said.

She said her sister then cried inconsolably and never answered her phone.
Shoahle said the other people who were quarantined together with her sister told the family that they tried to save her but they failed.
Shoahle said they were told by other patients that the nurses ignored her pleas for help.

The two cases paint a picture of health workers who are not only petrified but appear woefully equipped to treat Covid-19 patients.
The CHP and five other health practitioners’ associations it represents filed the application in the High Court as the number of their members who have contracted Covid-19 hit 22 yesterday.
“On the other hand, the Covid-19 regulations call for expeditious and safe storage and disposal of the remains of Covid-19 (patients),” Mothibe said in the affidavit.

“All these circumstances and situations, violate and/or impose a threat of violation to health workers’ own lives and health,” he said, in the affidavit.
What irked the health workers more is that M700 million has been set aside “to safeguard health workers and their clients against Covid-19 by availing them with the requisite medical tools and equipment,” according to Mothibe.

He said from this amount, M80 million is meant for Covid-19 risk or hazard allowances.
“The health professional work is by nature dangerous in particular during the prevalence of Covid-19 and poses a threat to the health professionals’ own lives and the lives of their families,” Mothibe said.
“The Covid-19 is a deadly disease and recently the rate of persons testing positive is rising at an alarming rate,” he said.

The application was filed after the Ministry of Health Principal Secretary Thebe Mokoatle circulated a memo in which he threatened to punish any health worker who downed tools.

The health workers want the High Court to declare that they have a right to stay away from a dangerous workplace.
Mothibe said “the government has done nothing reasonable in the discharge of its legal duty to avert harm posed to the Basotho population and health professionals”.

He argued that “the only legal route open to them is to remove (themselves) from a dangerous place to save their own lives, without forfeiting their remunerations and other benefits”.

Staff Reporter

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