Coronavirus in Zimbabwe

From Pindula
Zimbabwe's health workers wear protective suits during a training exercise aimed at preparing workers to deal with any potential coronavirus cases at a hospital in Harare, Zimbabwe, February 14, 2020. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo - RC2D0F9T97S9

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered Coronavirus. In Zimbabwe, the first case of Coronavirus was confirmed on Friday the 20th of March 2020. It was a Victoria Falls man who had traveled to the UK and back. A second case was confirmed soon after.[1]

The first Coronavirus death was registered on 23 March 2020, a prominent media personality called Zororo Makamba.[2]

Zimbabwe Coronavirus Statistics

Confirmed Cases Active Cases Recovered Deaths
29 23 2 4

Stats last updated: 24 April 2020:0530HRS

Zimbabwe's Response to Coronavirus

22 April 2020

  • Three more positive cases reported in Harare to take the number of positive cases to 28 with 2 recoveries and 3 deaths.
  • The country recorded one more COVID-19 death to take the total number of deaths to 4 and the number of cases increases to 29

19 April 2020

  • The country is yet to meet the WHO requirements to lift the lockdown so the Government has extended the lockdown by a further 14 days up to 3 May 2020.
  • Mining sector to resume or scale up operations and workers in this sector to be tested and screened and to live in their places of work.
  • Limited operations for the manufacturing sector including the informal and SMEs sectors
  • Essential services to continue operating as before and to be guided by the set parameters
  • Tobacco floors to be decentralised to avoid overcrowding.

10 April 2020

  • Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information releases a photo of a makeshift hospital in Gweru. The photos drew widespread criticism for showing the government's inadequate preparation for Coronavirus cases.

7 April 2020

Zimbabwe announces the second death from Coronavirus, a 79-year old Bulawayo man who had visited a Hwange area frequented by tourists.[3]

31 March

  • The government announces that an additional 1 case has been confirmed bringing the total to 8 cases

30 March

  • The Government to pay out Z$200m per month to a million vulnerable households over the next three months
  • Treasury redirecting capital expenditure in the 2020 Budget towards health, including water supply and sanitation
  • Budget allocations to various Ministries have been cut to redirect money to coronavirus fight
  • Unfreezing of 4 000 health sector posts. 200 new medical posts created
  • The 2% Intermediated Money Transfer Tax (IMTT) stays, but will be channeled towards COVID-19 related expenditure
  • Duty and tax suspended on goods and services related to testing, protection, sterilisation, and other medical consumables


28 March

  • The government announces that an additional 2 cases have been confirmed bringing the total to 7 cases

27 March - Total Lockdown

  • The government announces that an additional 2 cases had been confirmed bringing the total to 5 cases
  • President Mnangagwa addresses the country in the evening announcing a total lockdown in the country to commence Monday 30 March.
    • Security services to be deployed and essential civil servants will be the only ones to be allowed free movements.
    • All movements of people is prohibited with the exception of Ministers, Heads of Ministries & Health workers.
    • Only food related markets will be opened and security forces will be deployed where necessary.
    • Transport services will be suspended and only ZUPCO and Public Service buses will be exempted.


26 March

  • Government announces the confirmation of the 3rd case of Coronavirus in the country


25 March - Taskforce & Reconditioning Of Private Hospitals

  • Government announces a Coronavirus Taskforce which includes minister of (Defence and War Veterans Affairs), Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, who a few weeks ago had said Coronavirus was just God's punishment on thhe west for imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe. The other ministers in the taskforce are Dr Obadiah Moyo who is the chairman (Health and Child Care), July Moyo who is the deputy chair (Local Government and Public Works), Kazembe Kazembe (Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage), Dr Sibusiso Moyo (Foreign Affairs and International Trade), Joel Biggie Matiza (Transport and Infrastructural Development), Mangaliso Ndlovu (Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry), Mthuli Ncube (Finance and Economic Development), Professor Amon Murwira (Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation and Science Technology Development and Monica Mutsvangwa (Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services).
  • Following public outrage on social media that some private hospitals were being reserved for the elite, the government said that it was working with private companies to resuscitate some health facilities to increase the Coronavirus response capacity. In particular, the government said Sakunda Holdings (a company accused of corruption in several cases before) had been awarded the licenses to recondition St Anne’s hospital in Avondale, and Rock Foundation Medical Centre in Arundel.


23 March - Closure of borders

  • Following the first Coronavirus death in Zimbabwe, the president addressed the nation and announced further measures:
    • Closure of all borders to human traffic. Only commercial cargo would be allowed
    • Returning residents were now required to go into 21-day self-quarantine
    • Closure of bars, clubs, gyms and all sports events closed
    • Restriction of hospital visits to one hospital visitor per patient, and once a day
    • Ban of all public gatherings of more than 50 people.
    • Informal markets and public transport were to keep operating with security agents enforcing public health safety measures.


  • The government gazettes the declaration of COVID-19 as a Formidable Epidemic Disease in terms of the Public Health Act. This allows regulations to order compulsory testing, quarantining, isolation and treatment of anyone who is exposed to the infection or is confirmed as infected

17 March - Cancellation of national events

  • Before the first case had been confirmed, president Emmerson Mnangagwa addressed the nation announcing the following:
    • A cancellation of Independence Day celebrations
    • A cancellation of the pending Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) which was scheduled to be held in April.
    • A ban on Public gatherings of more than 100 people.
    • The cancellation of all pending International Sporting Events

The president was criticised for not closing its borders especially to people coming from high-risk countries such as China, Italy, France, and the US. The president said that travel from such countries was just "discouraged".


13 March - No cases yet

  • The Ministry of Health and Child Care announced that 8700 individuals had so far been screen at the countries ports of entry and had been put on surveillance. The announcement said there were not yet any confirmed cases in the country

Coronavirus Origins

COVID-19 is a zoonotic virus. From phylogenetics analyses undertaken with available full genome sequences, bats appear to be the reservoir of COVID-19 virus, but the intermediate host(s) has not yet been identified. However, three important areas of work are already underway in China to inform our understanding of the zoonotic origin of this outbreak. These include early investigations of cases with symptom onset in Wuhan throughout December 2019, environmental sampling from the Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market and other area markets, and the collection of detailed records on the source and type of wildlife species sold at the Huanan market and the destination of those animals after the market was closed.[4]

Disease Overview

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, immunosuppressed disease, kidney disease and advanced stage cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

The best way to prevent and slow down transmission is be well informed about the COVID-19 virus, the disease it causes and how it spreads. Protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands or using an alcohol based rub frequently and not touching your face.

The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practice respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow).

At this time, there are no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. However, there are many ongoing clinical trials evaluating potential treatments. WHO will continue to provide updated information as soon as clinical findings become available.[5]

Prevention

To prevent infection and to slow transmission of COVID-19, do the following:

  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds regularly with soap and water, or clean them with alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Maintain at least 2-metres distance between you and people coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing using tissue which you must immediately bin.
  • Stay home if you feel unwell.
  • Refrain from smoking and other activities that weaken the lungs.
  • Practice physical and social distancing by avoiding unnecessary travel and staying away from large groups of people.
  • If possible try and wear a surgical mask when travelling outside or if health worker wear a respirator/aerosol mask (type N95).

Symptoms

The COVID-19 virus affects different people in different ways. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease and most infected people will develop mild to moderate symptoms and recover without requiring special treatment. People who have underlying medical conditions and those over 60 years old have a higher risk of developing severe disease and death.

Common symptoms

  • fever (>38C or >100.4F)
  • shortness of breath
  • constant dry cough

Other symptoms include:

  • tiredness
  • aches and pains
  • sore throat
  • and very few people will report diarrhea, nausea or a runny nose.

People with mild symptoms who are otherwise healthy should self-isolate and contact their medical provider or a COVID-19 information line for advice on testing and referral.

People with fever, cough or difficulty breathing should call their doctor and seek medical attention.


References

  1. Zimbabwe Records First Coronavirus Case, VOA Zimbabwe, Accessed: 24 March 2020
  2. Zimbabwe Registers First Coronavirus COVID-19 Death, Pindula News, Accessed: 24 March 2020
  3. Zimbabwe Records Second COVID-19 Death – Ministry Of Health Coronavirus Update – 07 April 2020, Pindula News, Accessed: 07 April 2020
  4. [1], World Health Organisation, Accessed: 23 March, 2020
  5. [2], World Health Organisation, Accessed: 23 March, 2020