By Mirirai Nsingo
Two new suspected cases of Coronavirus have been reported in Zimbabwe, bringing to five the number of cases the country has dealt with.
Four of the suspects tested negative while the fifth awaits test results.
The first suspected case was handled in February and the second two weeks later.
Regarding the latest cases, Zimbabwe’s Information Ministry tweeted on Sunday: “In Masvingo, a traveller from Dubai tested negative. He is now in self-quarantine and is being monitored.”
The ministry also said, “The Wilkins Hospital is dealing with a case of a traveller from Thailand, who presented at a local private hospital, meeting (the) case definition for Covid-19 and was referred to them (Wilkins Hospital) for further tests.”
ZTN News understands one of the suspects, a woman from Mutare, returned to Zimbabwe from China on January 24, and was cleared after 21 days of observation.
She, however, died last Friday after having complained of breathing problems.
Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo told ZTN News: “The woman tested negative; we have nothing to hide. Although we have not recorded any cases, we remain on high alert. Like I’ve always said, it’s a matter of when we will have a case as our neighbours South Africa have already recorded a case.”
The Coronavirus first broke out in China in December 2019, and has spread to at least 76 countries, among them South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt and Senegal.
According to World Health Organisation statistics (March 7, 2020), 101 927 cases have been confirmed globally, with 20 533 patients still being treated.
Over 3 100 deaths have occurred.
The virus 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.
Zimbabwe is screening all travellers and visitors, and those with Covid-19 symptoms are being examined at designated isolation centres.
Further, the Zimbabwe Government last week suspended foreign trips for civil servants and encouraged the broader citizenry to minimise travel.
The Embassy of China in the capital, Harare, also plans to capacitate Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital – the Southern African country’s main Coronavirus isolation centre.
On a special edition of ZTN’s Heartbeat programme, United Kingdom-based Zimbabwean medical expert Dr Farai Makoni suggested: “To policy-makers, I would say the first thing to do is expand the centres that have effective quarantine facilities across the country.
“Secondly, complement existing laboratory diagnostics with other radiological methods. The third (suggestion) is to make sure health workers are adequately equipped and trained on how to respond effectively when faced with symptoms that mimic Coronavirus without endangering themselves.
“The media need to be mobilised in these instances so that they help in mass education of people in terms of hygienic practices, early symptom reporting and limiting gatherings – things like that.”