Mbabane: The Republic of China on Taiwan has proved to be a true friend of the Kingdom of Eswatini by donating thermal imaging cameras to the Ministry of Health at an event held at the embassy offices in Mbabane on May 4. The Republic also donated 3 ventilators and 60 000 surgical masks. The event was graced by a team of experts from the Republic also known as the ‘Taiwan We Go Team’ which explained how the items were to be used.
Making the donation the ambassador His Excellency Jeremy H S Liang said it gave them great pleasure to extend a helping hand to the kingdom in these dire times where the country is experiencing rising numbers of the COVID-19 pandemic. Liang said they were a true friend of Eswatini and there was no way they could sit back and relax and watch the kingdom disintegrate in the face of the outbreak.
Minister of Health, Lizzy Nkosi thanked Taiwan in assisting the nation in responding to the pandemic saying the country has not been spared from the scourge as seen in the exponential increase in numbers over the past weeks.
Nkosi noted that the rise in numbers has happened amidst strict measures put in place by the government in ensuring that there is reduced movement of people to limit the spread of the virus among people. “The measures of a partial lockdown, together with other activities are being implemented strictly especially over the past week and are yet to bear fruits,” said the minister.
She said the kingdom continues to see a steep increase in the number of confirmed cases and by May 3 had recorded a total of 112 cases, up from 62 cases just a week ago, noting that just a week ago the ministry’s regional rapid teams continued to aggressively trace contacts of each and every one of the confirmed cases. She added that the majority of the cases being confirmed were now local contacts. “This therefore means we have established local transmission with Manzini and its outskirts being the epicentre of the pandemic,” said the minister, adding that they have so far experienced one death who died as a result of complications from co-morbidities. She said, however, it is worth noting that about 95 percent of the COVID-19 confirmed cases have either been asymptomatic or mild disease.
“It is also worth mentioning that we are beginning to see a delay in the conversion of the COVID-19 confirmed cases to negative status, thus delaying their discharge from our health care facility,” said the minister. She mentioned that the increasing number of cases is becoming a threat to the country’s health system.
Nkosi revealed that ministry’s case management teams are working very hard to ensure that all confirmed cases are well cared for by teams that have been strengthened through the recruitment of additional doctors, nurses and support staff, however, skills gaps still exist. Protocol have been developed for the clinical management of COVID-19 cases, but the ministry recognises the need to strengthen infection prevention control measures so as to reduce recovery time of the cases and also protect health workers from being infected. “We therefore look forward to working with the Taiwan experts to fine tune our response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the country and minimize deaths,” said Nkosi.
Taiwan We Go Team
The Taiwan We Go Team that has come to the country comprises of an infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist, critical care specialist, critical care nurse and a chest physiotherapist. The minister was told that these experts will fill in the skills gaps that have been identified through improving clinical management of COVID-19 cases at the Lubombo Referral Hospital and other care centres through fine tuning treatment protocols, training of the COVID-19 team at the Lubombo Referral Hospital and other regional hospitals and advising the public health team to inform the direction of the COVID-19 response, according to evidence of confirmed cases.
The team will be meeting and strategizing with the COVID-19 Case Management Team of the Ministry of Health on May 5 before being introduced to the Lubombo Referral Hospital staff on May 11.
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