Govt calls for calm  as corona cases rise

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ANXIOUS Zimbabweans are praying that they will be spared the worst, following the weekend outbreak of the deadly coronavirus, which has killed thousands of people around the world, the Daily News on Sunday reports.
This comes as Zimbabwe recorded its second case of coronavirus yesterday, a day after the country confirmed that a Victoria Falls man had tested positive to the lethal virus.
Health and Child Care minister Obadiah Moyo confirmed yesterday that another patient — this time a man who had travelled to the United States last month — had tested positive for Covid-19 and was now admitted at Wilkins Hospital after experiencing respiratory distress.
“The National Microbiology Reference Laboratory at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital confirmed yet another case of Covid-19, which brings to two the number of confirmed cases in Zimbabwe.


“This second patient is a 30-year-old male resident of Harare who had travelled to New York on February 29 and returned home in Harare on March 9 via Johannesburg.
“He started exhibiting mild symptoms on March 12, which progressively got worse on March 19. He consulted his doctor who advised him to self-isolate at home,” Moyo said.
“The doctor alerted the local Covid-19 rapid response team that immediately went to assess him and recommended that he continues with self-isolation at home.
“Specimens were collected and sent to the reference lab for testing. Yesterday (Friday) evening, he developed severe respiratory distress and after stabilisation at home was admitted at Wilkins Hospital.
“The lab confirmed his Covid-19 positive results early this morning,” Moyo said further.
“Our teams are now engaged in contact tracing and are being assisted by the patient himself. Once again, we call upon everyone to remain calm as we manage these cases,” he added.
Moyo dismissed claims by opposition leader Nelson Chamisa and Harare mayor Herbert Gomba who had earlier announced that two more people in the capital had tested positive to the coronavirus.
On Friday evening the government reported the first case of Covid-19 in the country, saying a 36-year-old man who had travelled to the United Kingdom earlier this month had tested positive for the virus.
This comes as health experts and local authorities remain apprehensive dealing with the pandemic.
The secretary general of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights, Norman Matara, told the Daily News On Sunday yesterday that doctors were living in fear because they did not have sufficient protective equipment.
“Doctors are saying they fear going into casualty departments to see patients with suspected respiratory infections, because they might get exposed.
“We call on the government to protect health workers.
“We have seen in Italy, Spain and other countries that health workers have a high risk of getting the infection, and so we need to protect our health workers,” Matara said.


“I don’t think any nation can be 100 percent ready for a pandemic … but we must try to achieve basic minimum conditions where we can try to mitigate the effects of the virus.
“The government did something good when they banned public gatherings. But we need to do enough tests, as so far we have done few tests.
“The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged us to test as many people as possible … and we need to restrict travelling,” Matara said further.
The president of the Zimbabwe Nurses Association, Enoch Dongo, also said they were not trained on how to deal with coronavirus patients.
“With the confirmation of coronavirus, what it means to nurses is that we are now at risk and I can confirm that we are not adequately equipped with protective clothing and that is a major concern for our members.
“To start with, we do not know what to do when confronted with a patient with coronavirus. We really recommend that government quickly puts in place protective clothing in all hospitals across the country.
“The government should also quickly train medical practitioners on what the complications of coronavirus are, so that they know the procedures,” Dongo said.
The chairperson of the Parliamentary portfolio committee on Health and Child Care, Ruth Labode, also said the government needed to do more to combat the spread of Covid-19.
“I think the government is on the right track … However I don’t think the government is adequately prepared. There is need to improve on issues to do with protective clothes.
“Now that there are confirmed cases, there is need for government to put more effort in making sure that the disease will not spread,” Labode told the Daily News On Sunday.
Meanwhile, local authorities are frantically trying to revive their ill-equipped infectious disease hospitals to serve as adequate isolation centres.
Among other essentials, the facilities require ventilators for patients with serious respiratory challenges, face masks, disposable gloves, testing kits and hand sanitisers.
Gweru City Council, for example, says it needs US$100 000 to renovate its infectious disease hospital which has been identified as the provincial quarantine centre for Covid-19.
“The hospital needs equipment and more test kits … our health team has already undergone training to handle the cases.
“We need the equivalent of US$100 000 to refurbish the centre and to get proper equipment and things like masks.
“Currently, we have very few testing kits and human capital which might get overwhelmed if there is a massive outbreak,” Mayor Josiah Makombe told the Daily News On Sunday.
In Mutare, Mayor Blessing Tandi also said they were not fully prepared to fight coronavirus and needed at least US$400 000 to refurbish the city’s infectious diseases hospital.
“We are seeing Mutare as a potential risk, looking at its vicinity to Mozambique and porous entries we have along the border.
“There is also need for human resources mobilisation and the recruitment of nurses to deal with Covid-19.
“We need at least US$400 000 to renovate the Mutare Infectious Hospital … so that it meets the standard required for a safe isolation unit,” Tandi said.
On his part, Masvingo acting town clerk, Edward Mukaratirwa, said the town was having difficulties in training health workers and securing critical equipment needed to confront the coronavirus.
“We provided an isolation facility … Rujeko Clinic … but at the moment, we are not prepared in terms of equipping the facility and the training of workers on how to handle the disease.
“The Health ministry wants to turn Rujeko Clinic into a provincial isolation centre. We don’t agree with it because according to the law it is not our responsibility,” he said.


In Bulawayo, the city council said it was yet to fully equip Thorngrove Infectious Diseases Hospital for Covid-19 — more than a month after it submitted a list of its requirements to the national government.
The city’s divisional environmental health officer, Patrick Ncube, said they submitted their requirements to the Health ministry in early February.
“We were promised the requirements would be met, but up to date, we haven’t received anything including personal protective equipment, which is one of the most important items to protect healthcare workers,” he said.
On Friday, Bulawayo’s director of health services, Khulamuzi Nyathi, said Thorngrove Hospital was also facing a critical shortage of manpower, incinerators and ventilator lights, among other things.
He also said that the hospital’s laboratory was also ill-equipped to perform Covid-19 tests, with suspected cases having to be sent to Harare for testing.
However, in Harare Gomba said the capital city was ready to take on coronavirus patients.
“We are satisfied with our preparations. I know some are sceptical, but we are ready to help our people,” he said.
According to the WHO, the coronavirus comes from a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases.
Its symptoms include pneumonia, high fever, flu, shortness of breath and diarrhoea — and the precautions that have to be taken include covering your mouth when coughing and sneezing, and continuously washing one’s hands.

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