HARARE - Doctors in Zimbabwe say the country is facing a crisis from a shortage of healthcare workers as the number of Covid- 19 infections begins to rise.

Dr Rashida Ferrand, an epidemiologist at the main public hospital in the capital Harare told the BBC there are too few doctors and nurses because of a health workers' strike, which began before the pandemic, and a shortage of protective equipment.

She told the BBC's Newsday programme:

As a result of that, many wards, including the Covid centre, do not have enough staff. So whilst we have the capacity, we're currently relying on two volunteer doctors and a small group of nurses per shift. Even though we have extremely sick patients we are taking in only a maximum of 30 patients."

The hospital is having to turn patients away:

The reality is that if there are patients who are about to die and are at home I ask relatives and doctors to make them comfortable.

We've had patients dying in the car park and unfortunately as soon as [we reach] the limit of 30 beds which I can cope with, given the staff I have, I have to say 'no' [to their admission to the hospital].

And that is a very very gut wrenchingly difficult decision we've had to make over the last couple of weeks."

Zimbabwe has had nearly 4,000 confirmed virus cases, with 70 deaths officially registered, but doctors say the actual numbers argher.(FA)