GOVERNMENT has self-quarantined about 3 375 people who have passed through Zimbabwe’s ports of entry since the coronavirus was declared an international emergency and will avail US$5,2 million to prepare against the virus, Health minister Obadiah Moyo told Parliament yesterday.
BY VENERANDA LANGA/VANESSA GONYE
In a ministerial statement issued in the National Assembly yesterday, Moyo said at the moment, Zimbabwe was safe, but warned people against travelling to China.
“Around 3 375 people, who passed through ports of entry, were placed on self-quarantine and of these, 2 000 were students from China and are on self-quarantine for 21 days,” he said.
“A budget of US$5,2 million has been submitted to the Ministry of Finance, but this will be availed to us in tranches.”
Moyo said any Chinese visitors would first be put on 14 days self-quarantine in China and, if found free, they could travel to Zimbabwe and further self-quarantine for another 21 days.
“We have to pray to God that this thing should not come to Zimbabwe. I do not want to throw fear in you, this is a shocking disease as it can spread like wild fire,” he said.
“Be aware that there is no vaccine yet for control of coronavirus. What is available at the moment are anti-retroviral drugs, which are capable of reducing or stopping the spread of coronavirus and a number of cases were saved through this treatment. We have these drugs available in Zimbabwe, but we are building on availability of a booster drug.”
Moyo said the only challenge was that the type of testing platform that Zimbabwe was using took five hours for the results to come out.
“It is better than the test kits that took a week to produce results. However, we are waiting for test kits that will only take 15 minutes. These diseases are caused by unnatural interaction with animals (zooroneutic), as well as consumption of the most unusual animals like bats, snakes and others,” he said.
Magwegwe MP Anele Ndebele (MDC Alliance) said government seemed unprepared to deal with the virus due to the country’s porous borders.
He said Zimbabwe should completely ban any travel into the country by people from China.
But Moyo said the Zimbabwean embassy in China was always in touch, monitoring students there as well as other nationals.
Health authorities were in panic mode on Wednesday after the first coronavirus scare case was recorded in the country involving a 27-year-old Zimbabwean woman who had travelled from China.
Harare City health director Prosper Chonzi said the woman was set to be discharged by the end of the day yesterday after testing negative for the virus.
He also said Wilkins Hospital, which had been shut down to handle the suspected case, would re-open to ordinary cases by Monday.
“The suspect is free from the virus and will be discharged today (Wednesday), while less serious cases of patients that were transferred to Beatrice Road Infectious Diseases Hospital will be discharged during the course of the weekend. By Monday, Wilkins Hospital will be fully functioning,” he said.
On Wednesday, Health ministry director of epidemiology and disease control, Portia Manangazira, confirmed the incident, but denied that the suspect was showing signs of any respiratory related illness and that samples had been sent for tests.
At least 2 004 people in mainland China have died from the coronavirus, which has now spread to 27 countries across the world.
A total of 74 185 infections have been recorded in mainland China, most of them in Hubei province and its capital, Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak.