Friday 24 January 2020


Zimbabwe is on high alert after a coronavirus outbreak claimed 26 lives in China and has since spread to other countries like Japan, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Malaysia and the United States of America.

The Ministry of Health and Child Care is monitoring 22 people coming from Wuhan in China, the hotspot of the novel coronavirus virus, for the signs and symptoms of the rare respiratory infection.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), coronaviruses are 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). 

A novel coronavirus, is a new strain of virus has not been previously identified in human beings. The virus is highly contagious.

Although Zimbabwe is located thousands of miles away from the source of the coronavirus, it remains a greater risk considering the volume of traffic the country gets from China for tourism and business.

In an interview, Secretary for Health and Child Care Dr Agnes Mahomva confirmed that Government was on high alert. 

Dr Mahomva said 22 people coming from Wuhan were being monitored by the Ministry of Health for signs and symptoms of the rare respiratory infection.

“We are very much alert of the coronavirus and Government will take stricter and more targeted measures to curb the spreading and coming of the new virus into the country,” she said.

“We have already ramped up efforts to screen individuals arriving from China and all affected countries for possible signs of the infection. We were in a meeting yesterday discussing measures to contain the new coronavirus.”

She said Zimbabwe took the WHO warning seriously. “We stand very much guided by the WHO. We know they are a strong technical arm of the world and when they provide that kind of guidance, we take it very serious,” she said.

WHO representative Dr Alex Gasarira has argued Government to ensure the availability of trained personel at the country’s entry points for assessing and managing ill patients detected before travel and on arrival. 

“WHO recommends that all countries, including Zimbabwe, should undertake actions as included in the International Health Recommendations,” he said.

“There should be clear procedures and means in place to communicate information on ill travellers and also strengthening capacity for active surveillance, laboratory diagnosis, contact tracing, case management, infection, prevention and control as well as risk communication.” Herald


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