Harare (New Ziana) – The Zimbabwe government has put in place tight COVID-19 monitoring systems and state of the art, testing, quarantine and treatment facilities in case the disease spreads to the country, a Cabinet Minister said on Wednesday.
According to the World Health Organisation, in confirmed cases of illness in humans, common symptoms of COVID-19, which originated in China, have been serious respiratory difficulties with fever, coughing and shortness of breath.
Based on current clinical experience, the virus-which has killed over 1000 people- generally presents as pneumonia.
There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Africa so far.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said to date, a total of 1 433 travellers had been put under surveillance after having arrived in Zimbabwe from countries affected by COVID-19.
“The national response mechanisms for surveillance and early detection of any possible cases remain activated especially at all ports of entry in our country,” she said at a post Cabinet Briefing.
“The main treatment centres will be located at Wilkins infectious diseases hospital for the northern part of the country and Thorngrove infectious diseases hospital (in Bulawayo) for the southern region.”
Mutsvangwa added: “The national micro-biology reference laboratory (in Harare) was assessed and found to have good testing capacity and adequately equipped. Medicines for treatment have been identified locally and will be strategically positioned at the treatment centres. Government wants to assure the nation that it is ready to tackle the coronavirus scourge head on and there is no need for Zimbabweans to panic as the situation is very much under control.”
Adding on, Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo said test kits for the virus were in stock.
“Previously we used to send our specimens to South Africa for testing but on this occasion we found that they (micro-bilgy reference laboratory) have adequate equipment, in actual fact state of the art equipment. We also have the (test) kits adequate for 300, which is a big number, so we are safe there.
“I can guarantee you that as far as testing is concerned we can do it here in Zimbabwe without having to send (specimens) to South Africa, the only thing we want to add on the testing platform is to come up with rapid results test kits which will give us results in about 15 minutes, the current ones, the system I was talking about takes at least 5 hours, it is not long but we want to reduce it even further so we have already found the supplier of the rapid result test kits,” he said.
Dr Moyo said a 21 day surveillance period was being done meticulously on everyone who had visited an affected country.
Placement of people on the watch list is intended to monitor their health, and this is being done from their homes.
“We have gone one up in terms of being stringent in our selection, anyone who is coming from an affected country will have to endure 21 days of follow ups and they have to be in a single environment,” he said.
“All our port health authorities and all our environmental health officers are out in full force from whatever port of entry they are there. We are making it a fool proof system.”
The COVID-19 has since been declared a global health emergency.