Visiting Chinese medical experts have commended Zimbabwe’s response to the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking after a meeting between members of the delegation and senior health officials from the Harare City Council, the Chinese medical team head of delegation Dr Zhu Yimin also commended prevention measures put in place by Government.
“We see that much progress has been made in Covid-19 preparedness and response in Zimbabwe under the leadership of the inter-ministerial taskforce and we also see the progress made by the Zimbabwe Government in awareness campaign because we see a lot of people wearing masks in the streets. This is a good sign in responding to this pandemic,” said Dr Zhu.
He said community awareness, testing and isolation of infected persons were the three main pillars to combating Covid-19.
On testing, he said the team brought a lot of test kits to increase the country’s testing capacity.
“Nucleic acid testing is a very important step in early detection of this virus. Covid-19 is a highly-infectious disease and in order to get the accurate result we need to make sure that we have the standard operating procedures in place as well as the laboratory requirements.
“While we have brought with us our ideas and experience, we have also brought medical supplies, which include nucleic acid testing kits. I hope these supplies can assist Zimbabwe in its efforts to combat Covid-19,” he said.
Dr Zhu whose team also toured Wilkins Infectious Disease Hospital applauded the Chinese businesspeople in Zimbabwe for assisting in upgrading the isolation facility.
He said during the exchange of ideas with their Zimbabwean counterparts and after getting an appreciation of what is on the ground, they were hoping to provide local authorities with more practical advice on combating Covid-19.
“With such measures implemented we will be able to curb the further spread of Covid 19,” said Dr Yimin.
Dr Yimin said inbound transmission was a hot issue for every country.
“We need to get ahead of the pandemic. For example when the outbreak was at its early stages in China we managed to do health screening at ports of entry and exit and monitor all inbound travellers as well as implementing compulsory quarantine for in-bound travellers,” he said.
His comments followed concerns earlier by Harare municipal medical authorities that of the 16 cases reported in the city so far, 14 were imported cases with only two being local transmissions.
Head of epidemiology and disease control in the City Health Department, Dr Kudzai Massunda, said Zimbabwe had a lot to learn from the Chinese team, which experienced a huge outbreak, but managed to contain it.
“We have had these things before, some are theoretical from the book we have been reading, but listening to people who have managed the pandemic practically and managed even more cases than us gave us much insight into appropriate response to the pandemic,” said Dr Massunda.
He said one of the experiences shared by the Chinese was that they had the Covid-19 outbreak at the same time as an outbreak of ordinary influenza, and added that it was also important for Zimbabwe to be better prepared for both infections, as the country gets into winter, which usually sees spikes of influenza cases.
“We are also getting into winter where we normally have an increased number of cases. It is important to separate the two and testing as many people as possible will help us with correct diagnoses and clinical management,” said Dr Massunda.
The Chinese medical team, which comprises experts from respiratory departments, infectious disease departments and the fields of intensive medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, infection control, public health and nursing arrived in the country on Monday and will be here for two weeks visiting isolation centres and meeting with stakeholders in the Covid-19 response.