Monday, 2 March 2020

ISOLATED CHINESE VISITOR TESTS NEGATIVE


THE 32-year-old Chinese visitor, who was quarantined at Wilkins Hospital’s specialised unit in Harare for a suspected case of coronavirus (COVID-19) was discharged yesterday after tests came out negative.

The traveller arrived at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport from Hunan Province in China on Sunday afternoon and was taken to Wilkins Hospital for isolation and tests.

Though the Chinese national had no signs and symptoms of COVID-19, he was taken for isolation because he had a positive travel history.

As of yesterday, the virus had infected more than 80 000 across 58 countries, with more than 3 000 people reported dead.

Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo confirmed that the results of the tests carried on the Chinese national came out negative.

He made the remarks during an inter-ministerial meeting with Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe, Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo, Health and Child Care Deputy Minister John Mangwiro, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services secretary Nick Mangwana, Foreign Affairs and International Trade secretary, Ambassador James Manzou and ZRP Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga.

Minister Moyo dismissed an article on social media suggesting that the Chinese national who was isolated at Wilkins had tested positive for COVID-19. 

“There is a lot of misinformation, which is circulating on social media and it has caused unnecessary panic and despondency among Zimbabweans,” he said. “This is not the first time that people have circulated false news, as Zimbabweans we should be careful with the information that we circulate on social media.

“We have not recorded any COVID-19 case in Zimbabwe and we intend to keep it that way. We are working on improving our isolation facilities at Wilkins Hospital in Harare and Thorngrove Hospital in Bulawayo.”

Minister Moyo said the tests showed that the country’s laboratory testing for COVID-19 was also fully functional.

“So, we can still guarantee the nation that there is no coronavirus in Zimbabwe,” he said.

“We will, however, as per protocol, continue to monitor this candidate for the 21-day prescribed period.

“Our protocol continues to be stringent and protective of our nation and to further strengthen our surveillance. We continue following a scientific approach requiring all travellers coming from China to be screened and quarantined for 14 days in China and if they are found to be safe they will be issued with a clearance certificate to travel.
  
“When they come to Zimbabwe, they will still be subjected to a further 21-day self-quarantine.”

Harare City health director Dr Prosper Chonzi said they had evacuated all the patients who were at Wilkins Hospital.

“As per procedure, we evacuated them to Beatrice Infectious Hospital, so right now Wilkins Hospital is not functioning fully, but by end of this week it will be operational,” he said.

“We admitted this patient on Sunday for a suspected coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. We placed him under isolation because that is what is required of us to do if one is suspected to be carrying the virus and we isolated him at Wilkins Hospital.

“The reason for admission was that he had a positive history of travel. He has done very well and we have since done the PCR tests for coronavirus.

“It has turned out to be negative and we are happy with the clinical health of the patient and we have since decided to discharge him and follow up on him for the next 21 days to see if he develops any kind of fever or symptoms of Covid-19.”

Dr Chonzi said the man showed neither signs nor symptoms of the virus and having tested negative there was no reason to keep him in hospital any longer.

“When he was admitted, he was not symptomatic, he had no cough, no high temperature and no signs of respiratory distress,” he said.

“We doubt very much that he will develop any kind of symptoms.” Herald

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