Coronavirus scare in Harare


ZIMBABWE is facing the threat of the lethal coronavirus anew, after a woman who was earlier detained in a Harare hospital — but was later released after testing negative to the virus — was re-admitted yesterday after her health deteriorated, the Daily News reports.

This comes as the deadly virus — which has killed nearly 3 000 people in China alone, where it originated — has sent the world into a gigantic panic, with many countries scrambling to avoid its spread in their nations and global stock markets plunging at unprecedented levels.

It also comes as Zimbabwe has stepped up the screening of people for the virus at all its ports of entry — which includes checking temperatures and monitoring others for 21 days, to ensure that suspects do not have, and also cannot spread the virus.

The government confirmed to the Daily News yesterday that the woman — who had initially been admitted at Parirenyatwa Hospital — had been re-admitted at the Harare City Council-run Wilkins Hospital, which was chosen to deal with all cases of suspected coronavirus.

The director of Epidemiology and Disease Control in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Portia Manangazira, said yesterday the woman had been re-admitted on Thursday, to investigate why she had fallen ill again.

“She was tested three times for the coronavirus, but she seems to have some other pre-existing conditions.

“She was seen briefly at Parirenyatwa Hospital, before being referred to Wilkins, where they are investigating the reasons why she is unwell.

“She is, however, not under quarantine, but has been admitted as a normal patient,” Manangazira told the Daily News.

On its part, Parirenyatwa Hospital said the woman had been brought in by the City of Harare to their mental health institution, after concluding that she needed psychological assistance.

“The psychiatrist followed up the patient and attended to her in our casualty department.

“Since consultations with the City of Harare were continuous throughout the process, the two parties eventually resolved that the patient should be referred back to Wilkins Hospital — where she is currently admitted for comprehensive evaluation and treatment.

“The City of Harare, who isolated the patient and conducted tests on the patient, indicated that the patient had tested negative for the coronavirus three times.

“The first test was done in China, the second in Zimbabwe and the third in South Africa,” the hospital said.

The hospital also assured the nation that necessary measures were taken to protect both staff and patients from any potential infection.

“After receiving a report of the patient referred above, the chief executive officer and acting clinical director have immediately called for a meeting with key departments to review how the case was handled, and to assess the hospital’s preparedness to handle similar cases in the future.

“The whole casualty should be regularly disinfected following World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines. The exercise is to start with immediate effect.

“The few outstanding items on order for protective clothing should be expedited,” the hospital said further.

The coronavirus outbreak started in the Chinese city of Wuhan — the epicentre of the lethal virus, in December, before spreading to Hubei and to other countries.

WHO has already issued a warning that if the lethal virus spreads to developing countries, such as those in Africa, this could prove disastrous as most of them do not have the expertise and equipment to deal with the disease, which has caused so much panic around the world.

The government has consistently said that it is ready to deal with coronavirus, assurances that have been backed by the Chinese government — which has dispatched a team of highly-skilled doctors to train their local counterparts here on how to deal with the disease should it reach these shores.

Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe, Guo Shaochun, told the Daily News yesterday that they were happy with what the Zimbabwean government had done so far, to keep the virus at bay.

“We are now more than one month into the outbreak and Zimbabwe has remained strong. No confirmed cases have been reported here so far.

“This reflects that the measures taken by the Zimbabwean Government are working, and that our joint efforts are paying off.

“I believe we can keep this good momentum by continuing to work closely with each other. The Chinese medical team here has helped train Zimbabwean doctors.

“In fact, they are already working side by side with their Zimbabwean colleagues in the Ministry of Health and Child Care’s rapid response teams, to handle any possible cases at the earliest time possible,” Guo said.

Meanwhile, other countries have scaled up their efforts to protect their citizens and prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which has affected more than 25 countries.

On Thursday, South African president Cyril Ramaphosa said the country’s citizens trapped in Wuhan would be repatriated back, following their request to return home.

Ramaphosa also said the returnees would be quarantined for 21 days upon their arrival back in South Africa.

Two South Africans were confirmed to have the virus in Japan.

At the same time, Japan has resolved to close all its schools with effect from Monday, until the end of March — in a move that will affect 13 million students.

More than 200 people have so far been infected with the coronavirus in Japan.

On the other hand, the United Kingdom has said its schools may also be closed early, and sports events and concerts cancelled for close to two months, if the country is hit by the coronavirus.

The deadly virus has also put pressure on many businesses and supply chains around the world.

According to the WHO, coronavirus comes from a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases.

Its symptoms include pneumonia, high fever, flu, shortness of breath and diarrhoea — and the precautions that have to be taken include covering your mouth when coughing and sneezing, and continuously washing hands. – Daily News

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