We are not concealing information on virus: Govt

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PERMANENT secretary for the Health and Child Care ministry Agnes Mahomva has refuted claims that the government is hiding information on the deadly coronavirus (Covid-19).

This comes as Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) recently wrote to Health minister Obadiah Moyo, demanding reliable information to the public confirming the possible outbreak of coronavirus in the country. The lawyers’ group also wanted the minister to provide the number of infections that have been treated at health centres and the places where such patients have been and where they may have contracted the virus.

In a letter responding to the lawyers, Mahomva said the government has shared accurate information which indicates that no case of Covid-19 has been confirmed in Zimbabwe.

“The ministry would, therefore, like to refute allegations of apparent indifference to the Covid-19 threat. In contrast, the ministry is taking this public health emergency seriously and will continue to implement heightened surveillance and risk communication and community engagement, to minimise importation of Covid-19 and mitigate the effects of potential Covid-19 in Zimbabwe, guided by WHO guidelines and recommendations,” Mahomva said.

This also comes as there is growing concern from the public and health experts that the government was ill-prepared to deal with the virus if it comes into the country, given the dilapidated state of the public health system.
Mahomva further said that since the World Health Organisation’s declaration of Covid-2019 as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, the government has set up rapid response teams which meet regularly to coordinate the national emergency preparedness and response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

She added that the government also effected surveillance and mandatory screening of travellers, acquired Covid-19 testing equipment and also designated Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital in Harare and Thorngroove Infectious Disease Hospital in Bulawayo as receiving centres for patients.

“The national preparedness and response plan was developed to guide implementation of priority preparedness and response activities to Covid-19. The total budget for this plan is US$5,2 million and to date, $2 million has been received to facilitate implementation,” she said.

Mohomva indicated that although the Ministry has implemented mechanisms to mitigate the spread of the virus, it still needs more partners to help assist with the operationalisation of the country’s Covid-19 National Preparedness and Response Plan.

“Our biggest challenge currently is limited resources to implement this plan hence the perception that we are not doing as much,” she said.

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