Friday 20 March 2020


WILKINS Infectious Deseases Hospital, the main isolation centre for the coronavirus (Covid-19) in Zimbabwe, has once again run out of protective clothing, at a time the government is yet to dedicate funds for the response and containment of the deadly virus.

The hospital, a fortnight ago, received a donation of protective clothing, including space suits that had been given to the country’s Health and Child care ministry by the World Health Organisation (WHO) supported by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID).

Sources at the infectious disease’s quarantine centre told the Zimbabwe Independent that they had only received about 20 space suits which since have run out. “We have been getting a number of scare (suspected) cases, and we have been using those space suits and the rest dealing with those cases,” the source said.

Healthcare workers require space suits, gloves, gumboots and N95 respirators when attending to Covid-19 patients or suspected cases so that they do not get infected.

After attending to the patient, the clothing should be burnt to stop possible infection.The UK government, through its Department for International Development (DfID), supplied personal protective equipment, computers, data services and television monitoring equipment worth £100 000 (US$128 229). 

The hospital is on lockdown and does a thorough screening before admitting or conducting tests for coronavirus. Wilkins Hospital, situated in Harare’s Milton Park suburb, has 35 beds, while Thorngrove Hospital in Bulawayo has 20 for the Covid-19 response, according to Health minister Obadiah Moyo.

City of Harare Health director Prosper Chonzi earlier this month said more room would be created at Wilkins using tents. Wilkins was also not equipped to deal with Covid-19, prompting the Chinese embassy in Harare to renovate the hospital to create an intensive care unit (ICU).

“They are far from finishing because every time we get a scare they stop. There was no ICU at the isolation unit so that is what they are trying to create,” the source told the Independent.

The Chinese embassy pledged to refurbish Wilkins Hospital to make it comfortable for patients.Wilkins hospital is also short-staffed, with health personnel working long hours.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday cancelled national events, such as Independence celebrations and the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) so that the money can be diverted towards the Covid-19, response. Unlike other countries, Mnangagwa fell short of announcing how much the country was committing towards fighting the virus.

“Government has decided to postpone, curtail or cancel public events, gatherings and activities. In that respect, government has postponed the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, all national independence celebrations previously planned and pending international sporting fixtures until the threat of coronavirus recedes. All these activities will resume as soon as we are satisfied that our nation is no longer at risk,” Mnangagwa said while presenting his State of the Nation Address in Harare this week. 

“Resources originally earmarked for these events will now be redirected towards strengthening our defences against the coronavirus and towards drought mitigation.” Zimbabwe Independent


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