BY VANESSA GONYE/PHYLLIS MBANJE/PRECIOUS CHIDA
TWO Chinese nationals were yesterday admitted at Wilkins Hospital for coronavirus tests, while a tourist who visited the premier tourist resort of Victoria Falls tested positive soon after returning to the United Kingdom.
A family in Bulawayo went into self-quarantine after visiting neighbouring South Africa to consult a doctor who later reported that one of his patients had tested positive to the virus.
“(On Sunday) March 15, 2020, the ministry received a report of a suspected case in Bulawayo. This suspected case involves a female traveller who travelled from South Africa to Zimbabwe on Tuesday March 9, 2020,” the Health ministry said in a statement yesterday.
“This traveller had sought medical
attention for other reasons from a
general practitioner in South Africa the previous day before she travelled to Zimbabwe. She later received a call from South Africa informing her that her doctor had been put on self-quarantine after one of the patients the doctor attended to had tested positive to COVID-19. This patient is now under self-quarantine together with those she stays with.”
The ministry also said it had received a report that a tourist who came to Victoria Falls on March 7, 2020 and departed on March 10 back to the UK had tested positive to COVID-19 and was being treated in her home country.
The ministry said it was investigating the people who have been in close contact with the tourist.
The ministry also said two travellers, who entered the country though RG Mugabe International Airport, were flagged by health officials after the thermo-scanners showed high temperature. “One came from Shanghai, China, aboard Ethiopian Airlines and the other from London aboard Kenyan Airlines. These two have been isolated at Wilkins and are awaiting results.”
However, Harare City Council health services director Prosper Chonzi told an online publication that the two were Chinese nationals.
“We have admitted two Chinese nationals, one lady who was just seen milling around Bishop Gaul Avenue in a state of confusion with her bags. (The hotel) where she was going to be booked, they were not comfortable, so we have picked her up and we want to assess her and do the tests and see if she does have the coronavirus or not,” Chonzi said.
“The other one we picked up from the airport is a 52-year-old male who is from Shanghai with a fever of 38.1. He meets our case definition and we will have to isolate him and do the tests.”
Zimbabwe has not recorded any confirmed case of the virus that has forced several countries to tighten border controls and close their borders as a way of preventing the spreading of the disease, South Africa included.
By March 15, government statistics showed that a total of 14 suspected cases had been tested in the country, 12 at Wilkins Hospital in Harare and one each in Bulawayo and Masvingo.
Zimbabwe’s health system is also monitoring over 1 000 people, according to Health minister Obadiah Moyo.
South Africa now has about 62 confirmed cases as the number of African countries to record cases rose to 26 yesterday. The global death toll has reached 6 500 from 170 000 infections.
The US embassy in Harare yesterday suspended processing of visas to people travelling to America through Europe, which was last week declared the new epicentre of the virus that originated from Wuhan, China.
The two Chinese nationals were brought to Wilkins yesterday afternoon, two hours before opposition MDC leader Nelson Chamisa toured the facility.
Speaking at Wilkins after a tour of the facility, Chamisa called for joint efforts in curbing the disease and urged central hospitals to take a leaf from the response system at the Harare City Council-run hospital.
“Let us not be partisan; we need to come together, businesses, churches and so forth, to reach out and do what needs to be done. This is not MDC or Zanu PF, this is Zimbabwe, let us set our differences aside,” he said.
Zimbabwe Council of Churches secretary-general Kenneth Mtata said since the disease has been declared a global pandemic, it was time for the churches to also take a firm stance to protect their parishioners by following the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.
“It is very clear that COVID-19 has now been declared a pandemic and is spreading fast all over the world and faith communities are particularly vulnerable to the virus.”
Mtata said religious practices like baptism, handshakes, laying of hands, embraces, kisses of love were all physical and would put congregants at risk.
Archbishop of the Anglican Archidiocese of Southern Africa Thabo Magoba revised their guidelines after WHO declared the disease a pandemic.