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Sadc calls for a Coronavirus emergency meeting

Sadc calls for a Coronavirus emergency meeting. Coronavirus was detected in China towards the end of last year and has spread to over 70 other countries with South Africa confirming three recorded cases in the past week. Health  Ministers from the Sadc region gather in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, today for an emergency meeting to come up with a position on the state of preparedness and strategies to counter coronavirus.

Other affected countries include United Kingdom, the United States of America, Italy, Australia, Nigeria, Morocco, Egypt, Algeria, and Senegal. The World Health Organisation on Saturday said the global number of confirmed cases of coronavirus has surpassed 100 000.

In an interview with The Chronicle from Harare yesterday, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Agnes Mahomva, said the Sadc Health Ministers would be looking at how the region can respond to fighting the pandemic.

“Sadc Ministers of Health are meeting in Tanzania to look at Covid-19 and how we can strengthen the way we are responding to this virus that has gone all over the whole world.

“The continent with the challenges that we have it’s important that we are better coordinated and that we are putting our heads together to be able to respond appropriately,” she said. Dr Mahomva reiterated that Zimbabwe has not registered any confirmed cases of coronavirus.

She condemned fake social media reports insinuating the country has recorded cases of the virus where one person is also reported to have died. “As Zimbabwe, first and foremost it’s very important, I would like to advise the nation that to date Zimbabwe has not had any confirmed cases of Covid-19 as we speak now.

“All identified suspected cases have been appropriately followed up, tested and found to be negative for Covid-19. “All the tests were conducted by well-trained local laboratory teams. The results were confirmed by South Africa National Institute of Communicable Diseases Laboratory were very clear about what we are doing,” she said.

Over the weekend, messages have been circulating on social media suggesting that a suspected Chinese female national who had been referred to Wilkins Hospital in Harare had succumbed to Covid-19.

“Indeed, there was a suspected case of a Chinese female referred to Wilkins Hospital who unfortunately died before she got there, but she tested Covid-19 negative. “This just goes to show that she was ill from something else that just needed to be managed,” said Dr Mahomva. She urged the public to rely on verified information from the Government.

Dr Mahomva said Zimbabwe continues to step up its preparedness to eliminate the coronavirus by heightening surveillance system at national, provincial and district level as well as specifically focusing on all ports of entry throughout the country. Some of the measures Zimbabwe has so far taken, she said, include an inter-ministerial update and co-ordination meeting held last week to make sure that all Government ministries are working together because Covid-19 is not just for the Ministry of Health.

Dr Mahomva said Government has trained health care workers on dealing with cases or suspected cases of Covid-19 should there be any and test kits for the virus have been procured as some have come through donations from partners such as the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“Now we have trainers who are going down training at provincial and district level on all the areas on how to do surveillance, manage Covid-19 and so on. “We have identified locations for isolation in the country. Wilkins Hospital is just one of them, and we are working now to strengthen those locations to make sure they have the basic things that they require that we can afford with the resources that we have.”

Dr Mahomva said all hospitals across Zimbabwe have been put on high alert for Covid-19 and the country continues to be guided by and follows WHO guidelines and advice on surveillance as well as follow-ups.

In light of the coronavirus which has become an epidemic spreading across the world, Government is urging the public to take the little most effective measures of prevention that include washing hands with soap and water. “Those kind of good personal hygiene approaches are so critical for everybody but most importantly for us in Zimbabwe because as a Ministry we acknowledge we don’t have all the resources that we need.

“But with what we have if we use it appropriately and the public does what it is supposed to do to prevent this,” she said. Dr Mahomva said self-quarantine such as avoiding going to public gatherings or using public transport was also critical if people suspect they have been infected with the virus.

She said her ministry has also trained provincial medical directors and their teams including them prioritising ambulances or transport for suspected cases to go to the nearest isolation centres in their provinces.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, on its twitter handle, said a male adult was presently quarantined and being monitored after traveling from Italy. “He has no Covid-19 symptoms and test results were negative,” it said.

On the same platform, the Ministry also revealed that a Mutare woman who returned from China on January 24 this year, and presented herself to her doctor last week after complaining of shortness of breath.

“She was referred to Wilkins Hospital for Covid-19 tests but died on the way. Subsequent tests at Wilkins indicated negative for Coronavirus,” said the Ministry.

Source – The Chronicle

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