Life here is very much back to normal for the most part. Covid cases nationally are 88,730 and 678 deaths (about 10,000 new cases in the last month). At Chitokoloki, we have recorded 173 cases to date. We have had good quality rapid test kits this month which makes testing a lot more practical. Every patient attending outpatients is tested on arrival and every inpatient and any next of kin accompanying them are tested. We haven’t had any positive inpatients for quite a number of weeks now. Our positive cases are all being treated at home. As per standard guidelines, they and their contacts are advised to isolate but in reality this is not happening and we regularly see known positive folk out and about. We are thankful that we are not seeing the severity of covid that has been seen in other places. In fact, if it were not for the ability to test for covid, we would have no awareness of its presence. There are a lot of misconceptions in the community and it is difficult to contact trace. The nasal swab is believed to enter the brain and rumours that the covid test is dreadful circulate widely. Some outpatients try and attend at night time in the hope that they will manage to avoid being tested.
In reality covid is of little concern compared to the continued problem of lack of blood. We continue to struggle to get supplies for blood transfusion, yet have numerous patients in desperate need of blood. The last few days we have had several patients with active bleeding problems and a number of children with malaria who have extremely low haemoglobin levels (3.2g/dl-5.6g/dl). Our wonderful lab staff were able to perform a blood drive on Wednesday and then send the samples to Solwezi (6 hours drive away) for testing. As per national guidelines, all blood for transfusion has to be tested at government blood bank facilities. Thankfully they had all the necessary reagents in stock this week and we received results this afternoon as to which units are cleared for use. This is a huge answer to prayer.