March 29, 2020

Coronavirus: 13,500 Zimbabwean returnees under surveillance

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Takudzwa Chihambakwe in Harare, Zimbabwe

Over 13 000 Zimbabwean returnees are being monitored to prevent potential spread of Coronavirus.

The group mainly comprises deportees and others who evaded South Africa’s 21-day lockdown which began on March 26.

Although the Zimbabweans were screened at ports of entry, authorities want them in self-isolation.

Zimbabwe’s Health Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo told journalists on Sunday: “We have seen an increase in the number of Zimbabweans arriving from South Africa. The first group comprised 550 people. Afterwards, groups of 9 000 and 4 000 then followed (bringing the number to 13 550).

“We encouraged all these people to go into self-isolation. Again, we emphasise that they adhere to our call. We will be monitoring these individuals so as to avoid the spread of the disease – something that we have already seen happening with the case of the travellers from New York and Dubai who then spread it to people whom they got in contact with.”

Dr Moyo said the country’s six patients are in stable condition and recovering from home.

“Most of the cases we are dealing with have proven to be mild. The patients are all being treated at home and none has been hospitalised.

“More than 85 percent of Covid-19 cases will have a mild to moderate disease and will recover without being hospitalised. That is what we are seeing with the current six (confirmed) cases.”

He continued, “And the 20 000 kits donated by Jack Ma will only be used on critical patients. More testing centres will be availed to the public. However, we just want those who are showing symptoms to come through and not to have everyone flock to the testing centres.”

Coronavirus first broke out in China in December 2019, and has spread to at least 76 countries, among them Zimbabwe, South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt and Senegal.

According to World Health Organisation statistics (March 29, 2020), 672 666 cases have been confirmed globally, with 31 845 deaths recorded and 139 931 patients having recovered.

Zimbabwe has registered seven positive cases, including one death.

Coronavirus causes a disease known as Covid-19 whose symptoms are fever, tiredness, dry cough, nasal congestion, a sore throat and diarrhoea. Who says one out of every six people with Covid-19 “becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing”.

More people are susceptible to infection as no one has developed immunity to this new disease, experts say.

The Zimbabwe Government has ordered a 21-day lockdown, which begins on March 30.

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