Close to a hundred children who have been affected by an infection called bronchiolitis have been admitted at Harare Central Hospital and some of them are sharing oxygen cylinders.
The government has confirmed the country has been hit by an outbreak of bronchiolitis.
The infection mostly affects children under the age of two and the symptoms are coughing and breathlessness.
The casualty area at Harare Central Hospital today was busy with more than 50 parents whose children were exhibiting symptoms of the bronchiolitis infection and have been referred from their local polyclinics for further treatment.
Some of the children who have been admitted are sharing oxygen cylinders as the number of oxygen gauge points have become insufficient to service all patients.
Matron-in-Charge of the Paediatric Unit Mrs Rusia Jongwe said the children’s ward normally attends to about 120 children on average daily, but because of the outbreak the numbers are rising and it is putting a strain on oxygen supplies.
Minister of Health and Child Care Dr David Parirenyatwa who rushed to Harare Children’s Hospital yesterday night to assess the situation said the children require supportive treatment which means putting them on oxygen or a ventilator which is humidified.
“There is however no need to panic but all mothers should visit hospitals with urgency when they notice the flue-like symptoms and breathless in children below the age of two years and the newly borne babies. Government is on top of the situation in terms of alertness,” he said.
The ordinary wards are already full and some neonates who are responding well to treatment and are no longer in need of oxygen have been moved to the high dependency section of the burns unit to create more room for others who are coming.
Some treatment rooms that are adjacent to the wards have also been turned into wards as the number of children who need admission continues to rise.
The outbreak is occurring at a time when gas supplies from the provider Boc gases have not been consistent.
On Friday gas levels are reported to have gone very low but the company has since managed to secure more gas from Bulawayo and the situation is now reported to be under control.