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Food, hygiene and data frustrates COVID-19 patients

As the number of Coronavirus cases spike in Ethiopia, the status of existing COVID-19 treatment centers have come under increasing scrutiny from people who have been in and out. Patients in the previous one-and-only Coronavirus treatment center in the country, Eka Kotebe, have voiced their frustration and concern to The Reporter, regarding the food provision, hygiene as well as data handling.

One of the patients that came from South Sudan and was moved to Eka Kotebe treatment center after a brief time at Saphire Addis Hotel in Addis Ababa said that the testing as well as the record handling in the center is very wrong.

She remembers, after she was tested for the virus, several phone calls were directed towards her asking whether she has any underlying health conditions or not. She also complains about being badgered about her nationality, as she was asked whether she was an Israeli citizen and if she came from Israel. But, she repeatedly refuted the fact and asserted that she just came from Juba and she is an Ethiopian.

Although she later learnt that she tested positive for the Coronavirus, which she was told after insisting to known the results, the way the authorities handled the whole situation made her to suspect that the test too might be wrong and to demand for retest. She then was taken to the quarantine center.

“After joining the Eka Kotebe treatment center, what I found out was very disturbing. Food is not provided on a timely basis and our family members were disallowed from delivering us food at the hospital,” she laments also mentioning that she suffers from ulcer.

Apart from this, the door locks are not strong, there are sanitary problems at the hospital, the bathrooms are not clean enough and the corridors are too much suffocated because of huge gathering of people, she adds.

“I am afraid that I might even get another disease because of this,” she feared.

Similarly, a police officer at the hospital said that the hospital is not clean enough and there is a shortage of bathrooms. He also lamented that the physicians at the hospital come as late as 1:00 past midnight and ask for information reasoning that they have lost the previously collected information.

“There is no treatment that we are receiving hear. They just come and ask for our names and what we are feeling to register and go,” he asserted.

Another patient at the hospital who contracted the virus from a funeral complained that the bathroom floors are covered with water and they had to step in to the water on the floor to use the toilets. He also adds that they sometimes won’t have water to shower.

While admitting to the problems, Dr. Tegene Regassa, the Public Relations and Communications Director at the Ministry of Health (MoH), said that they provide food according to the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the MoH.

“Although the problems could persist until now, it has definitely showed improvement from what it has been at the beginning,” he said.

But food delivery from the outside is not forbidden, he argues.

“We have witnessed some bringing in narcotics like khat and shisha into the compound. Hence, we have to pass the food that comes from the outside via strong checks. Rather than this, food delivery from the outside is not prohibited,” he argues. But he said this was not a widespread experience.

Again, she refutes the fact that there is water shortage at the Eka Kotebe , a Hospital and a new line of water has been constructed to resolve the potential shortage at the hospital.

Regarding hygiene and sanitation, the intention is to engage the patients themselves to do the cleaning and they have chosen representatives who would coordinate this, he added.

Also refuting the allegation of data loss at the hospital, Dr. Tegene told The Reporter that there might be some understandable cases and shortcomings. His argument is based on the fact that data collection is computerized.

“The patients are asked to give samples repeatedly and they might confuse that with data loss as we often ask where the sample that they had previously given has gone. But, we have to explain this to the patients and they should know that we do according to the international standard of treatment,” he said.