Govt urged to accelerate COVID-19 testing

Source: Govt urged to accelerate COVID-19 testing | Newsday (News)

BY LORRAINE MUROMO

THE Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCOZ) has urged government to accelerate COVID-19 testing at public health institutions to help curb the spread of the virus.

According to a research carried out by WCOZ during the commencement of the latest COVID-19 lockdown measures, there has been very limited testing at public hospitals.

In a statement yesterday, WCOZ expressed concern that testing was being commercialised and concentrated in private medical facilities and laboratories due to the inadequacy of such facilities at public hospitals.

“We remain concerned, however, that testing and tracing of cases was being largely driven by the social and economic activities of individuals and the private sector,” WCOZ said.

“This is further supported by the number of persons approaching private sector-approved facilities for COVID-19 tests. We are concerned, however, of the low and limited rate of testing by public hospitals and driven by the public sector initiatives on surveillance of COVID-19 themselves,” the statement read in part.

“We are accordingly concerned that once citizens reduce their social and economic activities as per lockdown, there will be a correlating drop in testing. The lockdown period must be a period of actual reduction of infections, not a drop in testing.”

According to WCOZ, government was oblidged to ramp up community testing in public health facilities and practise transparency and accountability.

“We urge government to announce the current capacity to test for COVID-19 by public health providers in the country as well as intervene and secure a reduction in cost of tests in the private health sector,” WCOZ added.

“We urge the government to strengthen the reporting of COVID-19 pandemic status for Zimbabweans to strengthen the trust in public data and to support the change of behaviour critical to influence citizens to support the stemming of the disease.”

Currently, Zimbabwe has recorded 20 499 cumulative cases of COVID-19.

The government has secured approximately 156 000 testing kits.

It is also participating in the COVAX vaccine programme which is set to secure dosages for 20% of the population in each participating country by the end of 2021 as COVID-19 cases continue to surge with many cases requiring hospitalisation.

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