Zimbabwe readies for coronavirus war
THE government needs about US$5 million to be fully prepared for cases of the deadly coronavirus that may hit the country.
This comes as the lethal virus has killed nearly 500 people and infected about 25 000 others in more than two dozen countries since it first broke out in China in December last year.
Speaking in Harare yesterday, the deputy director responsible for epidemiology and disease control in the Health ministry, Isaac Phiri, said Zimbabwe had been preparing for disease outbreaks like this since 2018 — after Ebola hit the Democratic Republic of Congo.
However, he said, more than US$5 million was needed to ensure that the country was fully prepared should cases of coronavirus be recorded here.
“In total, we have a need for about US$5,2 million to fully prepare for the pandemic,” Phiri said at an inter-ministerial meeting on coronavirus.
On his part, Health minister Obadiah Moyo said no cases of the virus had been recorded in the country so far.
However, the ministry was currently monitoring 741 cases of travellers who had come from affected countries.
Moyo added that the coronavirus demanded that all government ministries worked together to ensure the country’s safety.
This comes as Zimbabwe has been screening people for the virus at all ports of entry — by checking their temperatures, taking down their contact details and monitoring them for 21 days to ensure that they did not have the virus.
Meanwhile, the chief executive officer of the Higher Life Foundation, Kennedy Mubaiwa, has said that there is need to increase safety measures for immigration officers who are among the first to get in contact with affected travellers by providing them with masks and sanitisers.
“Immigration officers do not have sanitisers at their work stations and they do not have masks.
“They are at high risk and we really need to sterilise entry points,” Mubaiwa said.
The country representative for the World Health Organisation, Alex Gasasira, said disseminating correct information on the virus was key to avoiding unnecessary panic among Zimbabweans.
“In the last few days someone called me to say we hear there are 221 suspects of the coronavirus, and what is WHO doing about this?
“I told the colleague that somebody coming in from an affected country is not a suspect,” he said.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), coronavirus comes from a large family of viruses that cause illness 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 hands.