April 1, 2020

Headaches for Covid-19 testing in Zimbabwe

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Mirirai Nsingo

Zimbabwean health officials are worried about the low testing rate for Covid-19 which indicates that the current statistics may not reflect the true dynamics of the epidemic.

The southern African country to date has 8 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and one death out of 274 cumulative tests.

“It’s the numbers that I’m worried about. I know we received 20 000 test kits last week so if we could utilise those then we will know we would have tested 20 000 people.

“Then we can start looking at how the outbreak is unfolding,” Harare City Health director Dr Prosper Chonzi told ZTN.

Testing remains centralised in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, which is currently the pandemic’s epicentre.

Dr Chonzi added that First World countries like Germany were testing about 500 000 people per day, hence the high case rate.

“We really need to increase the numbers we are testing if we are to have a true reflection of the pandemic. Countries like Germany for example are testing over 500 000 per day.

“While we are a low resource country, we really need to increase on the numbers tested.”

The Zimbabwe Government is frantically working on efforts to increase the testing rate by decentralising Covid-19 testing to provinces.

Dr Chonzi hopes the donation of 20 000 testing kits that the country received from Chinese business magnate Jack Ma will help in bridging the gap.

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