Dr Chitalu Chilufya
talks to one of the patients after a heart operation at UTH. Piacgtuere3 By Linda Soko Tembo.
THERE was near commotion at Lusakas’ Matero Level One Hospital yesterday after a hoax phone call to the institution claimed an ebola patient was heading there. Ministry of Health Public Relations manager, Stanislaus Ngosa, told the Daily Nation in an interview yesterday that the health workers went into alert mode and reacted as per training falling the call and sent away patients because that was part of procedure in the event of the real thing happening. Mr Ngosa said after investigations, the ministry discovered that the call was a hoax because there was no ebola patient referred to that hospital. He however, commended medical personnel for reacting appropriately as they should in the event of a real situation happening. Earlier in the day, panicstricken medical staff immediately went in alert mode and instructed patients and their relatives at the outpatients department to stop whatever they were doing and vacate the premises. There was chaos at the pharmacy as those who were waiting to collect their prescribed drugs jostled to retrieve their newly introduced electronic cards because pharmacy staff were preparing to close the unit. A Daily Nation staffer who was at the hospital to seek treatment at the time, witnessed the ensuing confusion as bewildered patients complained about being sent back without drugs. Pharmacy staff had a tough time to close the service window as women mostly with babies tried to prevent them from closing. "Bakamba ati titenge ma cards chifukwa kuli ebola," said one women as she tried to get her card from the pharmacy. As reports of the suspected Ebola patient spread to all units of the hospital, medical staff were seen downing mouth masks and as part of preventive measures and in readiness for the emergency. Some terrified trainee nurses found outside the hospital premises said they would not return to work as only qualified personnel were required for such an emergency. A man whose relative, a patient who had remained in the hospital, was heard angrily shouting on the phone "chokani umo muli ebola muchitachani kansi." (Get out of that place, what are you doing here, there is Ebola in that place). A mother with a small baby said she was about to collect the medicine when she was told to leave by medical staff. A check by the Daily Nation after about two hours found the waiting bay and the hospital corridors still empty with only a handful of people at the registration office. Unlike other normal working days, the taxi rank outside the hospital was also empty while the guard at the main gate was seen positioning himself as if he had just reported for work. Some nurses were seen removing mouth masks .
One of the patients being operated on at the UTH.