A nation on the edge

Sharon Mathala
OVERCROWDED: Princess Marina Hospital

Overwhelmed hospitals reach Covid crisis point

As Covid-19 infections hit a worrying new high in Botswana – on 16 July the number of active cases stood at 14, 792 following a surge of 4, 008 new cases in three days – the country’s hospitals are facing crisis point.

Overwhelmed by the rising numbers, most hospitals, both public and private, are nearing or have reached 100 percent of their Covid-19 capacity.

Indeed, the two major hospitals, Nyangabgwe and Marina Referral Hospitals, have actually exceeded their limit.

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The Francistown institute in particular is struggling to cope with the influx. Designated beds for only 16 Covid patients, Nyangabgwe currently has 47 positive cases admitted at the hospital.

Outlining just how serious the situation is, Assistant Minister of Health, Sethomo Lelatisitswe admitted the health system is failing to cope.

Responding to a question posed by Selibe Phikwe West MP, Dithapelo Keorapetse in parliament on Wednesday, Lelatisitswe said, “We admit that we are overwhelmed, both private and public hospitals. This is a situation we are closely monitoring. Most hospitals have reached maximum carrying capacity of beds reserved for Covid-19 patients.”

Breaking down the figures, the health sector’s second-in-command revealed even Sir Ketumile Teaching Hospital (SKMTH), which houses only severe Covid cases, was close to capacity.

“At our tertiary hospital, SKMTH we have few beds left. It accommodates 115 patients; at the moment there are 93 patients. Marina has 83 beds but currently has 86 patients, which means three more patients have no beds.”

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For a full breakdown of the numbers check out the table below.

Keen to break some good news, Lelatisitswe revealed government will complete the construction of a 25-tonne Oxygen plant at SKMTH this week. This will increase the hospital’s capacity to 195 beds.

“What we are doing is that we are increasing isolation centers as well as buying more oxygen concentrators so that isolation centers too can be capacitated to treat patients who need oxygen instead of sending them to hospitals,” disclosed the Assistant Minister, who was quick to admit Botswana has been hit hard by the new Delta variant.

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As of Monday, Botswana had fully vaccinated 116, 147 residents, which represents a little over five percent of the country’s population. The death toll stood at 1, 328 while Greater Gaborone, Greater Palapye and Greater Francistown zones were all classified as severe hotspots.


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