A THAI national who had run away from being tested for the deadly coronavirus returned to Wilkins Hospital yesterday where all the necessary tests were finally conducted, the Daily News reports.
Authorities are now waiting for the results of the tests, which they have committed will be publicly communicated once they are received.
This comes as fears are growing among panicking Zimbabweans that the government is not fully prepared for the lethal disease, which is spreading rapidly around the world and has now killed more than 4 000 people.
The Thai national had escaped hours after another foreigner had died on Sunday, on her way from Mutare to Wilkins Hospital — after complaining of shortness of breath, which has been listed as one of the symptoms of coronavirus.
Yesterday, Harare City Council (HCC) health director, Prosper Chonzi, confirmed to the Daily News that the man had returned to Wilkins Hospital and was now under observation until hospital officials were able to clear him of the virus.
“I am happy to confirm that the young man presented himself to the hospital this morning (yesterday) and they have since collected the specimen they wanted to collect from him when he escaped on Sunday.
“The specimen has been sent to the National Reference Laboratory (NRL) at Harare Hospital and we should have the results very soon to confirm if he is negative or positive.
“If his results come back as negative, then we will discharge him, but if they are positive, appropriate action will be taken,” Chonzi said.
“We are also going to send another specimen that we collected from him to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) in South Africa for further testing.
“This is just a procedure we follow to ensure that we get the best results and get to compare notes. We should be able to get the test results from South Africa in a day or two,” he added.
“The man had probably left the hospital due to fear and a lack of understanding of what was really happening, and according to what he told our health personnel he left Wilkins Hospital and went to where he was residing at in Mt Pleasant.
“In the meantime we remain positive and reiterate that no one has tested positive for coronavirus in the country and that we are working tirelessly to ensure that there is no outbreak in the country,” Chonzi said, as he explained the Thai national’s escape from the hospital at the weekend.
Authorities were sent into panic mode when the 26-year-old man fled from Wilkins Hospital on Sunday, moments before he was to be tested for the coronavirus.
His escape prompted the police to launch a manhunt, who according to reports, could not locate him at the address that he had given at the hospital.
In the meantime, the coronavirus has put tremendous pressure on global markets, businesses and supply chains around the world — with the New York Stock Exchange temporarily stopping trading on Monday, amid surging global infections and deaths.
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 your mouth when coughing and sneezing, and continuously washing one’s hands.