Govt seeks US$100m corona war chest

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©️ THE government is scrounging around for at least US$100 million to fight the spread of the deadly coronavirus in the country, the Daily News on Sunday can reveal.

This comes as the number of people who have been infected by the virus in Zimbabwe continues to rise, after the country recorded new cases — bringing the official tally to seven since the government started releasing the statistics of known affected people last week.

At the same time, regional power and Zimbabwe’s biggest trading partner South Africa, yesterday recorded its first two deaths from Covid-19.

This came as the neighbouring country entered its 21-day lockdown, following a raft of tough measures that were recently announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa — which include the closure of all airspaces and some borders.

The minister of Health and Child Care, Obadiah Moyo, told the Daily News On Sunday yesterday that Zimbabwe required at least US$100 million to set up a war chest to fight the disease — through the purchase of equipment such as rapid results test kits and ventilators needed for patients suffering from acute respiratory problems.

“We need US$100 million … this is what is required for us to meet all our requirements. Government has raised some money, but it is not enough. We need support from donors to be able to confront the disease. We are seeking funds from all over.

“Right now, we have equipment for testing that takes about five hours for results to come out, and we now need rapid test kits to step up our testing initiatives,” Moyo said.

“We are thus looking for funding from donors and the business community, so that we are able to meet all these challenges,” he added.

Moyo also said the government was working closely with the private sector to combat the spread of the disease, which has killed more than 25 000 and infected hundreds of thousands other people around the world.

Some of the organisations that are chipping in to help include Higherlife Foundation, Sakunda Holdings and Unki Mine.

Higherlife Foundation is sourcing ventilators to ease the burden on the cash-strapped government.

“The global community is in unchartered territory, as Covid-19 continues to spread and immensely impact the lives of individuals, families and communities around the world … In the fight against Covid-19, the use of ventilators could save lives.

“As such, Higherlife Foundation would like to purchase or hire ventilators from individuals or entities with these respiratory devices in their possession, which they are currently not using,” it said.

“The government of Zimbabwe has implemented a raft of measures to curb and control the outbreak of the disease, albeit under tough economic circumstances.

“It is against this background that Sakunda Holdings … its associates have come up with a private initiative to complement government efforts to curb this pandemic, specifically in the provision of health facilities, equipment, training and vaccines.

“Sakunda has identified Rock Foundation Medical Centre as a facility in the fight against Covid-19,” Sakunda said in its letter announcing its role in helping to source much-needed equipment to deal with coronavirus in the country.

On the hand, the United States of America, which now has the highest number of infections in the world, has pledged US$470 000 to fight the disease in Zimbabwe.

“This assistance will build on the on-going investments by the United States in Zimbabwe’s health sector.
“Since 1980, the United States government has provided over US$1 billion in health assistance to strengthen health systems, so that Zimbabweans can live longer, healthier lives,” USAid chief Stephanie Funk said.
This comes as local healthcare staff remain apprehensive about dealing with the pandemic.

This has seen medical doctors and nurses going on strike to protest the inadequate protective clothing and equipment needed to deal with the coronavirus.

According to the World Health Organisation (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 the mouth when coughing and sneezing, and continuously washing one’s hands.

Zimbabwe recorded its first coronavirus death on Monday — after talented television personality Zororo Makamba — who was the youngest son of telecommunications tycoon and former legendary broadcaster James Makamba — died at Wilkins Hospital, after being diagnosed with the lethal virus.

The Makambas later narrated a heart-rending story in an exclusive interview with our sister publication, the Daily News, about how Wilkins Hospital is ill-prepared for coronavirus — which led to them feeling “betrayed” by authorities.

Zororo’s death grabbed the attention of many people both in Zimbabwe and abroad, leading to pressure being exerted on the government to step up its coronavirus preparations.

Among other things, the Makamba family said Wilkins Hospital was poorly equipped to treat patients infected by the disease.

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