Monday 16 March 2020


A Bulawayo woman who travelled to South Africa for medical attention has been placed under self-quarantine together with her family after a patient treated by her South African doctor tested positive for Covid-19.

In Harare, two other people, one who travelled from China and another from the United Kingdom are now in isolation at Wilkins Hospital in Harare.  Results for the three cases are expected to be released today. 

Cabinet is also today expected to decide on Bulawayo’s hosting of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair and Independence Day celebrations as more manpower is being deployed to Beitbridge Border Post for screening of Covid-19 following an increase in South Africa’s positive cases.

South Africa, which has closed 35 of its ports of entry, yesterday said it would not close the border with Zimbabwe due to its economic importance as positive cases reached 64.

In an interview yesterday, Health and Child Care Minister, Dr Obadiah Moyo said in Bulawayo, the woman who had sought medical attention in South Africa was under isolation with her family at home.

 “Her doctor attended to another patient who tested positive for corona at the same facility while she was also there in Johannesburg South Africa. It is not the doctor who tested positive. The woman returned in the country on Tuesday 9 March. She is in self-quarantine, the rapid response team visited her home and put her in quarantine at home while waiting for results. No one from that house can go out and environmental health officials pay visit daily to her home to assess if they are in compliance with self-quarantine orders,” said the Minister. “In light of this development we remain at the same situation unless the results  state otherwise. For all the cases we are waiting for results. They are other two, one who came from Shanghai (China) and the other one from United Kingdom. They are both admitted at Wilkins Hospital. We don’t want people to panic,  once we have the results, we will make them public. The results for the three cases will be released tomorrow (today).” 

Dr Moyo said a tourist who left the country on March 10 via South Africa also tested positive upon his return to his home country,the United Kingdom.

He said Government has since started contact tracing of all those who interfaced with the tourist in Victoria Falls.

Dr Moyo said more people will be deployed to Beitbridge to strengthen capacity in the event of high volumes of traffic pushed by the closure of other borders which people previously used to access south Africa.

On Sunday, the Minister told The Chronicle that Cabinet will today decide on Bulawayo’s hosting of Independence celebrations and other related issues.

Bulawayo Mayor Councilor Solomon Mguni in an interview said council’s report from the Health Services Department on its position on hosting of major events in the face of the threat of Covid-19 will be released later this week.

He said for now council will await Cabinet’s decision. 

 “I have said it would be safer to suspend all big gatherings for at least two months while observing global trends and paving a way forward. It poses a big risk to bring the world to converge here when there is such a problematic virus.

“However, we eagerly await cabinet to decide and hope that the decision will be the best in the public interest,” said the Mayor.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Mrs Tumisang Thabela said schools that were telling parents and guardians to keep children at home if they exhibited flu like symptoms were doing the right thing.

“We are still waiting for an update from the Ministry of Health and Child Care therefore any major decision that we can take as a ministry will be guided by the health ministry. Schools that are telling parents to withdraw pupils who exhibit flu like symptoms are doing the right thing as they are protecting the sick child, the rest of the class, the school and the teacher.

“For now, one can never be so sure when it comes to flue. It is therefore necessary that the best safest measures are taken, as we await guidance,” she said.

Zimbabwe Council of Churches secretary general Dr Kenneth Mtata in a statement yesterday urged members and Zimbabweans in general to avoid the “contact practice.”

He said the virus was spreading fast and Africa will not be spared.

“It is now clear that the Covid 19 has been declared a pandemic and is spreading fast around the world. Faith communities are especially vulnerable because religion is a contact practice through holy communion, baptisms, laying of hands, handshakes, embraces, kisses of love. Faith communities will need to desist from these contact rituals to avoid contaminating each other and getting infected. We also need to dispel myths like black people are immune from the virus and that Africa will be spared. If possible, avoid being part of any crowd or gathering,” he said. 

Some Zimbabweans in South Africa are in panic mode as the virus spreads in the neighbouring country.

Locals are also worrying about relatives scattered across Europe, Asia, America and some parts of Africa where the virus is ravaging.

Zimbabwe Community in South Africa Chairman Mr Ngqabutho Mabhena urged Zimbabweans not to panic but to remain calm and follow all advice on staying safe from the Covid-19.

“Zimbabweans in South Africa are updated by the announcements made by the South African government. Some gatherings for the Zimbabwe community which had been scheduled for this month have since been cancelled,” he said.

“We also want to concur with the department of health and to remind all Zimbabweans here to follow all guidance on hygiene and staying safe so as to protect ourselves and our families. We further urge the people to desist from any large gatherings as per the government directive.” Chronicle


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