Govt is ready for grim coronavirus


HEALTH and Child Care minister Obadiah Moyo reiterated yesterday that authorities were ready and also had enough capacity to deal with the deadly coronavirus — which has so far killed 81 people in China and left 3 000 others ill there.

This comes as fears over the spread of the virus have caused panic around the world — amid reports that it has now spread to other continents, including Europe and North America.

The virus first broke out in Wuhan, in China last December — and is said to have come from snakes at a local market, which Chinese authorities have since closed down.

Yesterday, Moyo told journalists at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport that no cases had been recorded in Zimbabwe so far.

In addition, he said, the country was adequately stocked with a drug called Kaletra which had proven to be effective in treating coronavirus victims.

“There is a drug called Kaletra which has been found to be effective, although it’s not a permanent treatment.
“For now, the quantities of the medicines that we have are adequate for the task. We are ready … it’s just now an issue of monitoring our ports of entry.

“The infection is currently not in Zimbabwe and we would like to keep our fingers crossed that it doesn’t,” Moyo said.

He added that his ministry had also set up screening points at the Robert Mugabe Airport to check for affected travellers.

If the virus is found, Moyo said, patients would be sent to Wilkins Infectious Disease Hospital in Harare for quarantine and treatment.

“The symptoms of this particular virus range from pneumonia, high fever, flu symptoms, shortness of breath and diarrhoea.

“Precautions that have to be taken include covering your mouth when coughing and sneezing and continuously washing hands,” he said.

He also advised Zimbabweans to limit travelling to countries affected by the virus.

“Infections can move easily from other countries and that is what we are trying to avoid.

“What is critical at this stage is that we avoid travelling to areas affected by the virus.

“We are very happy that we have been communicating with the Chinese embassy and they have also advised us to cancel unnecessary travel,” Moyo said.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, Godfrey Koti, has expressed concern that if not eliminated soon, the virus could affect the tourism sector.

“We are worried because we were having a healthy influx of Chinese tourists and Zimbabwe was trying to tap even more into that market.

“We have also just come back from attending some trade shows in China, and so it would be a blow to the travel sector in Zimbabwe.

“We are hoping that this can be contained and eradicated as quickly as possible so that we can continue to see activity and growth in the travel sector,” Koti told the Daily News.

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