TWO travellers who were in isolation at Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital in Harare over suspicions of having the coronavirus have tested negative, the Daily News reports.
This comes as President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday declared the deadly coronavirus a national emergency while suspending social gatherings of more than 100 people to mitigate the spread of the virus, which has killed over 7 000 people across the globe.
Harare City’s health director, Prosper Chonzi, said the suspects had tested negative and had been discharged from the hospital, which is one of the two isolation facilities in the country.
“We admitted the two patients overnight yesterday and we conducted tests which indicated that they are negative. This means that we have no confirmed case of coronavirus and we hope it remains like that,” Chonzi said.
He added that the suspects had travelled from Shanghai and London, cities in countries with confirmed cases of the coronavirus, hence their isolation and subsequent testing.
Chonzi said Wilkins Hospital is now receiving more people who are presenting themselves for coronavirus screening and testing.
“We are picking up more suspects. That means the momentum is really high now. We remain vigilant and hope to respond appropriately when the time comes,” Chonzi said.
He dismissed claims that the government and city health officials were hiding information on the virus given that all suspected cases had tested negative to the virus.
“Our testing method is very loose. What that means is that we pick up people with symptoms of flue or fever in nature. So, it is still a loose case definition.
“If it was tight like if you are coming from Wuhan province or Italy then chances of picking it up are high, but we don’t have many travellers coming from these areas in Zimbabwe and that might explain why cases are coming up negative,” Chonzi said.
He added that although no case has been confirmed, the City of Harare and the government were working together to ensure that there is a high level of preparedness in case of an outbreak.
“So, we should ensure that we avoid unnecessary gatherings and maintain the distance that we have been talking about, one metre. It will be very difficult to maintain that if people are gathering and if children are going to school.
“We cannot go about closing schools or universities now, but these are things that we should consider because if other countries are doing it then we need to learn from them and consider doing it,” Chonzi said.
Meanwhile, Bulawayo City Council health services deputy director Khulamuzi Nyathi said they were yet to receive the results of a woman and her family who are suspected of having the virus.
The woman had travelled to South Africa seeking medical assistance and after her return to Zimbabwe, her doctor was quarantined after having come into contact with another patient who tested positive to the virus.
“We can only do so much with the little resources as and when they are availed to us. As you know, the test kits are not manufactured locally. So we are waiting for the test kits.
“They just arrived at City Hall and we are about to go and test the family. Once tested, we will send the specimens to Harare,” Nyathi said.