HEALTH Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya has clarified that Chilenje Hospital in Lusaka has not been closed but it has restricted new admissions until it is fully disinfected.

Dr Chilufya was speaking when he toured Chilenje Level One Hospital yesterday.

Seaking earlier, Chilenje Level One Hospital medical superintendent Dr Allan Musonda said the 10 patients who had shared a ward with the deceased 19-year-old woman from Bauleni Compound had been quarantined in the same facility.

“The state of affairs is that the hospital is working. There are patients who are still admitted to the hospital. This particular ward has 10 patients. The one where we are from is fully functional, the ART section is working and patients will be attended to. But just on advise of public health, we had to restrict admission of new patients to the ward because the patients who are here are potentially COVID-19 infected. Once we know that they are not infected, we will start admitting new patients to the ward and we might get this advise even today. So the hospital is not closed per se, we are just taking measures to ensure that we don’t mix patients with those who may be infected. Also because one of our staff who was infected, who was positive, was working in [the] casualty section,” said Dr Musonda.

“So we had to take measures to test all staff in casualty and quarantine them. But we are working out measures to make sure that as we get the results of the staff, we should be looking at how we can also open the casualty [section]. So basically, that’s the status. The hospital is not closed per se. These are just temporally measures to ensure that we don’t get more people exposed.”

And Dr Chilufya said it was not the policy of the Ministry of Health to close hospitals but rather to disinfect and quarantine those suspected of having COVID-19.

“What he is emphasizing is that yes, we had cases and the case that we are dealing with was admitted to this ward. Now as a matter of routine, the 10 patients that were with the previous patient who died have been quarantined right in the ward; they are going to stay here. The tests done on them have been taken to the laboratory and by close of business today, the results will be out. Once these patients are found to be negative, then we shall discharge them and allow them home in quarantine for 14 days. Then we shall start using the ward after further disinfection. Furthermore, all the staff in the hospital that came into contact with the patient have also been tested and for those that we know for sure came into contact with the patient that had tested, they are quarantined at home. So the hospital is not closed and it’s not the policy to close the hospital. But to disinfect and quarantine people who came into contact,” said Dr Chilufya.