Sunday, 1 March 2020


A SECOND suspected coronavirus (Covid-19) patient has been put under isolation at Wilkins Hospital in Harare while tests are being conducted.

The results are expected today. The first case involved a 27-year-old Harare woman two weeks ago who was suspected to have contracted the disease after visiting Wuhan, China. 

The woman tested negative to the virus and was released from Wilkins within days. Harare City Council Health Services director Dr Prosper Chonzi confirmed yesterday that there was a suspected case of a traveller from China who had been taken to the isolation facility.

“Yes, there has been a suspected case of a person travelling from Hunan, China, who has been put under isolation facilities,” he said.

“The traveller arrived in Zimbabwe this afternoon (yesterday). At the time of arrival, people thought the traveller had symptoms of coronavirus. We picked the person at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport and isolated the traveller. 

“As we speak, the traveller is admitted at Wilkins Hospital under isolation while investigations are being carried out. We are waiting for the results and the traveller is in a stable condition and is not showing any symptoms or fever.

“We have to follow protocol as ascribed by the World Health Organisation and adopted by the Zimbabwean Government. When there is rumour of a suspected coronavirus case, we investigate.”

The Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services yesterday afternoon tweeted on the matter: “Government would like to inform the public that today, a traveller from Hunan Province in China was flagged up as needing assessment for coronavirus. Full WHO Protocols were deployed. The traveller has now been taken to designated isolation facilities where tests are being conducted.”

According to WHO, coronaviruses belong to a family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

Statistics showed that by yesterday, coronavirus had killed over 2 900 people worldwide, the vast majority in mainland China.

There have been more than 85 000 global cases, with infections on every continent, except Antarctica. The virus is highly contagious and has no cure.

So far, only experimental treatments have been used in China with success in stabilising patients.

An ARV, Kaletra (ritonavir and lopinavir) has been used. Coronavirus symptoms include pneumonia, high fever, flu-like symptoms, chest pains, diarrhoea and shortness of breath.

Precautions include covering the mouth when coughing or sneezing, washing hands the same way as people do when guarding against cholera and typhoid.

Zimbabwean and Chinese authorities are encouraging travellers between the two countries to either delay or cancel unnecessary travelling to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Surveillance systems in Zimbabwe have also been activated, with special focus being put at the main ports of entry and exit including Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, Joshua Nkomo International Airport, Victoria Falls International Airport and Beitbridge Border Post. Herald


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