Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Reporter
IN an effort to arrest the increasing number of Covid-19 positive cases, the country will next week embark on massive community testing targeting to reach at least 100 000 people in the coming few weeks.
The idea, according to officials, is to identify, trace and isolate all suspected cases.
Harare City Council director for health services, Dr Prosper Chonzi said under the programme, Harare plans to run about 30 000 tests.
He said preparations for the exercise, which will take place at every community clinic administered by the local authority, were at an advanced stage.
Dr Chonzi said they were currently setting up tents at clinics across the city from which interested individuals would be tested.
“We are intensifying community testing for Covid-19 and at the moment. Our staff are busy pitching up tents to commence the process,” said Dr Chonzi.
He said the process would start off with rapid diagnostic testing (RDT), from which those positive will be tested again using the definitive method known as Polymerase chain reaction (PCR).
“We are doing this so that we know the extent of local transmissions and categorise them. We are expecting to run about 30 000 tests in the coming weeks and we are doing this with support from Higher Life Foundation and Mars,” said Dr Chonzi.
He said the partners would be availing test kits for RDT as well as for PCR.
Dr Chonzi said the arrangement would also see a number of health workers who had not yet received training, undergoing coaching for Covid-19 testing.
He said this process would assist the city in understanding the burden of the virus in Harare for better response.
Commenting on the rising number of people confirmed positive through post mortems, Dr Chonzi said it could be an indication that the country was not doing enough testing, hence missing these patients before they died.
It could also mean patients were not presenting themselves for testing after having symptoms and this made mass community testing a necessity.
Dr Chonzi said there was need for lockdown to allow the country time to re-strategise on its national response.
“Looking at this exponential rise in cases and looking at the number of deaths and weaknesses in our health system, we need to look at issues of lockdown again for at least a week or two of complete lockdown so that we can get on top of the situation.
“This might give us an opportunity to re-strategise so that we do not continue to have more cases,” said Dr Chonzi who is also a public health specialist.
Cabinet last week announced the imminent tightening of lockdown restrictions and localised lockdowns in hotspots amid concerns over rising cases.
Schools’ scheduled reopening next week was deferred while the further opening up of the economy was suspended.
The scaling up of testing in communities was adopted as part of new measures to curb further transmission.
To date, Zimbabwe has so far conducted over 100 000 of both RDT and PCR tests from which 1 788 people were confirmed to be carrying the virus.
Of those infected, 803 have since recovered.
The country has also lost 25 people to Covid 19.