Thursday, 19 March 2020

BRIT WOMAN NOT TESTED : MINISTER


GOVERNMENT has clarified the case of a British tourist who visited Victoria Falls recently and reportedly tested positive for Covid-19 in her country, saying the woman has actually not been tested and is only in self-quarantine. 

Last week, the woman, who is believed to have been in the company of her husband, was reportedly rushed to Victoria Falls Hospital after developing fever-like conditions while checking into a local hotel.

Medical doctors cleared her after she responded to anti-malaria drugs and she exited the country via South Africa on March 10. In a statement on Monday, Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo reported that the woman had tested positive in UK, raising fears among residents and tourism staffers in Victoria Falls that the coronavirus may have spread.

After making follow ups with UK authorities yesterday, Government established that the woman was not tested in her country as she did not show symptoms of the virus. The director of Epidemiology and Disease Control in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Portia Manangazira said there was no need for Zimbabweans to be scared as no positive case has been recorded. She, however, reiterated the need for people to be cautious.

“Contrary to what the media reported and after we made follow ups, those people are in self-quarantine in UK in line with that country’s guidelines because they don’t fit in the Covid-19 case definition. This is what we got today (Tuesday) that nobody tested them and as such we don’t have an official communication from UK that they tested positive although they are sick with other problems. This, however, doesn’t relax our efforts to monitor all their contacts,” said Dr Manangazira.

She said health officials will go ahead with surveillance measures, especially following up on people the couple may have had contact with while in Victoria Falls and even in other parts of the country.

It emerged that a travel agency that had raised the alarm had not verified the information before relaying it. Fear gripped the country’s prime resort town following the Monday announcement as residents felt the tourism and health sectors needed to tie some loose ends to make sure safety is guaranteed. 

Some questioned the country’s preparedness to detect and deal with the pandemic, which has been declared a national disaster in many countries including Zimbabwe yesterday.

Workers at the hotel where the British couple had checked in had put themselves on self quarantine although health officials had remained cautious.

Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) Victoria Falls chapter chairperson Mr Arnold Musonza called for maximum sensitisation of citizens at all spheres of life.

“As operators, we have requested to be given guidelines and offered to help with whatever resources are required to fully sensitise the public. We are expecting sanitizers from South Africa as we feel that precaution should start with us.

“We appeal to every section of society, especially churches, to strongly adhere to safety measures because imagine if something happens at a workplace, the same worker will go to a church gathering and then home and the virus can spread to all those people. We need to be extra cautious at individual level,” he said. Chronicle

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