Harare vigilant on coronavirus


THE government says it is monitoring visitors from affected nations who have arrived in the country over the past few days — as part of efforts to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, which first broke out in China.
This comes as the contagious virus — which has no approved vaccines or antiviral drugs to treat it — has so far killed 26 people and infected at least 830 others.

The virus has spread to Japan, the United States of America, Thailand and South Korea.
Health and Child Care director for epidemiology and disease control, Portia Manangazira, said yesterday that authorities were currently monitoring 22 Chinese nationals who arrived in the country on Thursday.

“We have been following events closely since we got the notification of the virus. Fortunately, and as a country, we are not new to putting together mechanisms to prevent us from newly-detected infectious pathogens.
“We have to make sure that whoever is coming in, should they be infected, we are able to detect that very early and know what to do,” she told a meeting on epidemic diseases in Harare.

Earlier, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube had also told delegates at the ongoing World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that the government was ready to tackle the deadly respiratory illness.
“Our health systems are strong. We continue to invest more in the health sector.

“We believe this (coronavirus) is something we can tackle, but when we’ve got a global phenomenon like that we know that … the World Health Organisation (WHO) … is watching this. “We do not feel that we are particularly vulnerable more than anyone else,” Ncube said.

Meanwhile, and following the coronavirus outbreak, China has stepped up efforts to contain the disease — placing restrictions in one of its cities that has been deemed to be the centre of the outbreak.

The outbreak has cast a huge pall on the annual Chinese Lunar New Year festivities in the affected cities.
On its part, WHO has so far said it is not treating the coronavirus as an emergency.

According to medical definition, the coronavirus can cause a range of illnesses in humans including the common cold and more severe forms like SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) — which are life-threatening.

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