Govt prosecuted over coronavirus

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©️ THE Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) yesterday approached the High Court to compel the government to urgently implement measures to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus in the country, the Daily News reports.

This comes after the government admitted at the weekend that some of the rapid testing kits in its stocks were defective, forcing authorities to wait for the delivery of more reliable equipment.

It also comes as many health experts have argued that the country should have by now seen a significant jump in confirmed positive cases — as the 14-day incubation period, being the time the virus takes before becoming fully blown, has long elapsed.

 

ZADHR accused the government of dishonesty after it recently claimed that the country was prepared to deal with coronavirus — adding that Zimbabwe had a dire shortage of equipment such as ventilators, oxygen tanks and N95 masks, as well as isolation facilities.

Health minister Obadiah Moyo, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube and Transport minister Joel Matiza were cited as the respondents in the urgent ZADHR court application.

“Despite the first respondent (Moyo) telling the world that Zimbabwe is ready, to the extent of even offering to assist other countries in distress, we have observed with trepidation that Zimbabwe is not ready for the pandemic, and measures taken so far fall short of the steps that are necessary to prevent, contain and treat the incidence of Covid-19.

“Ideally, every district hospital must have such facilities. Currently those facilities are only available in Harare and Bulawayo (albeit inadequate), leaving citizens outside these two centres at risk of failing to timeously accessing healthcare.

“The first respondent (Moyo) has not put in place adequate measures … to ensure that health practitioners across the country are adequately protected against the Covid-19 virus — putting doctors, nurses and other health practitioners at greater risk of contracting it,” the ZADHR secretary-general, Norman Matara, said in his affidavit.

Matiza was accused of not coming up with measures to protect public transport workers during the 21-day lockdown that started last week. The doctors argued that Matiza should ensure the screening and testing of personnel driving public transport vehicles provided by Zupco, and public service buses transporting authorised persons to and from work.

“This creates potential exposure and creates a reasonable apprehension among applicant’s members who use the only available form of public transport that they will contract Covid-19 on their way to and from work,” ZADHR said.

It also demanded robust screening and testing of citizens for Covid-19 across the country, arguing that doctors were at risk of contracting the deadly disease as they resided within communities.

They also slammed Moyo for not sharing with the public the protocol that should be used to handle deaths suspected to have arisen from Covid-19, as well as guidance on procedures to be followed at funerals.

“There are no adequate testing kits for both public and frontline practitioners, with reports of suspected cases being turned away from testing centres such as Wilkins Hospital, without being attended to  because of insufficient testing kits.

“Fewer people are being tested. Thirteen days after the first case, only 316 persons have been tested across the country,” ZADHR said.

“Statistics elsewhere have shown that there is far greater risk of local transmission of coronavirus where there are lower testing rates, lack of good primary healthcare facilities, and lack of compact tracking of suspected cases,” the doctors said further in their application.

Zimbabwe is currently under a 21-day lockdown that was imposed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa as part of tough government measures aimed at combating the spread of the disease in the country.

The issue of how ill-prepared Zimbabwe has been to effectively deal with Covid-19 was brought to the fore last month following the death of talented broadcaster Zororo Makamba — after he apparently contracted the lethal virus in the United States of America (USA).

Speaking in an exclusive interview with our sister publication, the Daily News on Sunday at the weekend, Moyo confirmed that there were defective rapid testing kits in the country, forcing authorities to wait for the delivery of more reliable equipment.

“We received some kits which we are not using because we found that they were defective. We are, therefore, waiting to receive definitive testing kits because some of the rapid results testing kits we have give defective results.

“This way, one person can test negative when one is positive, and a positive person can test negative when that is not the case. So, those tests are not reliable,” Moyo said.

“The only reliable testing that is taking place in the country is being carried by the government and not private hospitals. As government, we are using the golden standard which is definitive, although this takes five hours for the results to show.

“We hope to get more testing kits so that we come up with results early,” Moyo further told the Daily News on Sunday.

 

 

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