Openness must guide tackling of coronavirus

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THE novel coronavirus is spreading like veld fire. It has so far killed over 3 000 and infected plus 105 000 people globally.

Africa has not been spared. The continent at the weekend recorded its first death in Egypt where a 60-year-old German tourist succumbed to the deadly scourge at a hospital in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada from acute pneumonia.

  • Statistics show that the virus is spreading at a breakneck speed. So far Egypt has 48 cases, Algeria 17, Senegal 4, South Africa 7, Morocco 2, Cameroon 2, Tunisia 2, Togo 1 and Nigeria 1.

What is of monumental concern to Zimbabweans is that the virus is now at the country’s doorstep after it hit South Africa last Friday. Citizens are praying and fasting that the virus will not spread into the country given our questionable state of preparedness.

Despite assurances and reassurances from the government, citizens are sceptical and it’s understandable why. The government has not been transparent on how exactly it is prepared to tackle the coronavirus menace.

We are told that government has dealt with several cases of suspected coronavirus and tests were negative. We are told the country has enough medication to deal with the virus and that even visitors into the country will be screened at every point of entry in the country.

Worryingly, there is a feeling among Zimbabweans that authorities are being economic with the truth. Several people who of late used our main gateway to South Africa, Beitbridge Border Post, will testify that they were never screened for the virus. This is reported to be state of affairs at many of our entry points.

Again what is strange is that the government has only designated one hospital in the country, Wilkins, to deal with the deadly scourge. Can the hospital adequately deal with patients coming from all over the country if the virus spreads into our borders? How equipped are our district and provincial hospitals to tackle the scourge in the likely event that it hits the country?

There is lack of information from the government on the country’s state of preparedness and this gives rise to speculation, some of it feeding into social media. Malicious information is then spread around, causing more confusion and consternation.

There is need for openness from the government. The Health ministry must be proactive, not reactive if the country is to deal effectively with matters concerning the coronavirus scourge.

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