Chiwenga’s aides tests positive for Covid-19 in China, massive hotel evacuation

Health workers Thursday outside Beijing’s Legendale Hotel, from which hundreds of people were removed and quarantined. PHOTO: NOEL CELIS/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Two members of Vice President Constantino Chiwenga’s delegation tested positive for Covid-19 at a luxury Chinese hotel – sparking a health emergency.

Hundreds of hotel guests at the Legendale Hotel in Beijing were forced to quarantine on Thursday, although officials maintain that Chiwenga – who took the Sinopharm vaccine in February – was not one of the positive cases.

Chiwenga, 64, arrived in China aboard a private jet with four aides on July 23 to seek treatment for a “throat problem”, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Reports say questions are being raised in China – one of Zimbabwe’s major allies – about whether authorities kept the infection from the public.

Chiwenga – who doubles up as Zimbabwe’s health minister – takes regular medical flights to China where he has been treated for an oesophageal health problem.

The opposition has criticised the expensive trips undertaken by private jets hired from the United Arab Emirates, while millions of Zimbabweans have to put up with an underfunded health system chronically short of medicines.

Covid-19 alert … Vice President Constantino Chiwenga took two doses of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine in February and March this year

China on Saturday reported 55 new coronavirus cases on the mainland for July 30, compared with 64 cases a day earlier, as the Delta variant spreads across the country during the summer holiday.

Thirty of the new infections were local cases, compared with 21 the previous day, the National Health Commission said in a statement. There were no new deaths.

The other 25 cases originated overseas.

A majority of the local cases were reported in Jiangsu province where Nanjing, its provincial capital, is facing an outbreak of the Covid-19 Delta variant this month traced to airport workers who cleaned a plane which arrived from Russia.

The Nanjing outbreak has spread to other cities in Jiangsu, to the country’s capital Beijing, and to other provinces including Anhui, Sichuan, Liaoning, Guangdong and Hunan.

Suzhou, a major city in Jiangsu, announced on Saturday it is shutting all games parlours for chess, cards and mahjong, after several people in another Jiangsu city caught the virus while playing in one such parlour.

To curb the outbreak in Beijing, some schools in the city have asked students on summer vacation to return to Beijing at least 14 days before the autumn semester starts on August 15, the Beijing Youth Daily reported.

China had administered over 1.6 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines as of July 30. The vaccinated included 150 million people above the age of 60 and 12 million youth 12-17 years old, a health authority official said.

As of July 30, mainland China had a total of 92,930 confirmed coronavirus cases and its death toll stood at 4,636. – ZimLive