EKUSILENI Medical Centre said it was ready to deal with the new Omicron COVID-19 variant detected in South Africa and Botswana recently.

The hospital is one of the COVID-19 specialist centres in Bulawayo. It was opened last year after 20 years of closure.

Ekusileni Hospital, the brainchild of the late former Vice-President Joshua Nkomo, was initially meant to be a specialist cancer hospital. Its reopening experienced a number of false starts last year.

Hospital acting chief executive Absolom Dube yesterday told Southern Eye that they were ready to tackle the fourth wave.

“We are very ready for the fourth wave, and we will start admitting patients if it hits the country.  We have since increased our personal protective equipment as we get ready for the fourth wave of the pandemic,” Dube said.

“Our staff members are ready for the fourth wave. Our operational budget has sunk a bit, but we are waiting for funds from Treasury as we prepare for the fourth wave.”

Meanwhile, Mpilo Hospital acting CEO Solwayo Ngwenya said the Omicron COVID-19 variant appeared to be highly transmissible due to the large numbers of people admitted in the countries it had been detected in the past three days.

“The virus has probably spread far and wide. It is against this background that everyone must take urgent steps to protect themselves by strictly following World Health Organisation protocols which have been proven to work,” Ngwenya said.

“Any further perpetuation of the gross complacency that we have been witnessing will result in profound catastrophic results. We must change now, this game-changing variant is astonishingly swift, and we haven’t seen such rapid spread of a variant before.  It’s sweeping, it’s blistering, it’s astonishing, yet all this was predicted months, and months ago,” he said.