by Ellen Albertz

THE Rehoboth State Hospital has cancelled daily visits and has urged the public not to visit the hospital unless critically ill.

The hospital has furthermore dispensed three months’ treatment to patients on chronic medication to decongest the hospital premises.

The Hardap region currently has the fourth highest number of Covid-19 infections, with Rehoboth as the epicentre.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic in March last year, 90 Rehoboth residents have succumbed to the virus, with 75 healthcare workers infected.

Last week, the region reported 444 new infections, of which 364 were from Rehoboth alone, accounting for more than 80% of new infections, followed by Mariental and Aranos.

Acting Hardap health director Berit Platt says the latest measures are being put in place to decongest the public hospital to reduce the spread of the virus at the town.

He said the number of positive infections is climbing drastically, which calls for drastic measures.

“We are convinced the numbers are fuelled by the infections in Windhoek, which has the highest rate of infections. Rehoboth people travel for work and school on a daily basis, so they are exposed to the virus for most of the day, after which they travel back to Rehoboth,” Platt says.

He says the current infection rate is too high to accommodate all patients at the hospital.

The maximum number of Covid-19 patients the hospital has been able to accommodate thus far has been 12, of which none were in the intensive care unit.

He says another challenge is infections among the medical staff, which creates staff shortages and places a strain on the available staff.

“You will often have three to four staff members absent for 10 to 14 days due to infection,” he says.

“It is a very trying time and very difficult. But we are doing our best with the resources we have to provide the services needed. Remember, other public health programmes are still running,” Platt says.

The hospital received new ventilators for Covid-19 high-care patients last year, including oxygen proximeters, which alleviate their current burden.

Platt says the hospital still has sufficient oxygen supply for the time being.

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