Paidamoyo Chipunza Herald Reporter
As Zimbabwe continues to track down all potential Covid-19 infections within its borders, including any possible transmission from a recent British tourist in Victoria Falls and a Bulawayo woman whose South African doctor recently tested positive, a National Coronavirus Strategic Plan bringing together all upgrades to the nation’s response will be launched on Thursday by President Mnangagwa.
While so far there have been no confirmed infections of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care is following a safety-first policy with the potential contacts in Bulawayo and Victoria Falls and two travellers who arrived yesterday,
In his briefing yesterday, Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo said health authorities have asked a Bulawayo family to self-quarantine after a South African-based doctor consulted by one of the family members tested positive for Covid-19.
After coming home to Zimbabwe, the woman received a call from South Africa that her doctor had tested positive, so the Zimbabwean authorities immediately took specimens from the woman and her family before recommending self-quarantine, which means staying at home with no contact with anyone else, while awaiting release of their results. The woman returned from South Africa on Monday last week.
The Government has also begun contact tracing of workers from a Victoria Falls hotel and other people who could have been in contact with a British tourist who left Zimbabwe early last week for South Africa, where he visited some tourist areas, before testing positive back in the UK after being detected by screening when her plane landed.
Zimbabwean authorities now want to find out if she was infected before arrival in Zimbabwe or when she visited South Africa and this means testing everyone she was in close contact with in Zimbabwe.
Two more travellers who arrived in the country yesterday from Shanghai, China, and London, have been placed at the isolation centre at Wilkins Infectious Disease Hospital awaiting results of laboratory tests for Covid-19.
The developments have prompted Government to recommend protective clothing for workers in the hotel and tourism industry to protect them from potential infection from suspected cases.
All public institutions are encouraged to provide hand sanitisers in line with global recommendations to adhere to basic hygienic practices as prevention of Covid-19.
The launch of the upgraded national plan, which is expected to take place at State House, will outline public health strategies that the country will implement in the fight against Covid-19.
“I want to advise you that we have worked on the national preparedness and response plan for Zimbabwe and this is going to be launched on Thursday and it is going to be launched by non-other than the President of Zimbabwe, Cde Mnangagwa,” said Minister Moyo.
The launch follows a position taken by SADC member States at an emergency meeting held in Tanzania last week where they agreed to come up with co-ordinated national strategic plans against Covid-19.
The national efforts come as the Government continues to screen, isolate and recommend self-quarantine on a number of travellers, including Zimbabweans coming from affected countries.
So far about 8 000 travellers have been screened for coronavirus, a majority of whom passed through the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.
The Government has reiterated that people should limit unnecessary travel and gatherings, especially as the Easter holidays draw close.
Cabinet is also expected to deliberate on more measures the country will put in place for Covid-19 preparedness and response today.
Minister Moyo continued to urge the public to follow basic hygiene.
“In order to reduce the risk of the infection, we want to continue to educate the public. We are working with various international donors in the production of materials so that we can be able to reach out to the rural areas,” said Dr Moyo.
Cases of coronavirus continue to increase in Africa. Egypt is the worst hit with 150 confirmed cases, with South Africa the next worst, reporting at least 64 cases by end of yesterday.
Over 7 000 people globally have since died of coronavirus while almost 180 000 others have been infected. China, where the pandemic is dying back swiftly, Italy and Iran are the worst affected with more than 133 000 or the cases and more than 6 000 of the deaths.