No coronavirus cases in Zimbabwe, say health authorities

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Harare – No cases of novel coronavirus (Covid-19) have been reported in Zimbabwe to date, despite numerous claims on social media and several suspected cases, Zimbabwean health and childcare authorities said on Sunday.

“All identified suspected cases have been appropriately followed up, tested, and found to be negative for Covid-19. All tests were conducted by well-trained local laboratory teams,” Zimbabwe’s ministry of health and childcare said in a statement on Sunday.

Additional samples from all suspected cases were being sent for confirmation testing at the regional reference laboratory – a South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) laboratory.

“To date, all samples have tested negative for Covid-19,” the health ministry said.

The latest suspected case in Zimbabwe is a woman from the eastern town of Mutare who returned from China more than a month ago. She consulted her general practitioner and was referred to Wilkins Hospital in Harare for Covid-19 tests. The woman was confirmed dead on arrival at the hospital. However, Covid-19 tests on her were negative.

In South Africa, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on Sunday confirmed the country’s third case of Covid-19 – the wife of the first confirmed case, a man from KwaZulu-Natal.

On Saturday, Mkhize confirmed the second case, saying the patient, a woman from Gauteng, was a direct contact of the first patient, as they were both part of a group of 10 people who had travelled to Italy.

In a statement on Sunday, Mkhize said: “We confirm that we traced all 10 of these individuals. Nine of them had returned to South Africa. The tenth did not and is therefore not in our country.

“This morning [Sunday] we have received results of the direct contact of the first patient, his wife. She had also travelled with him to Italy as part of the group of 10. I now wish to advise the public that she has tested positive for Covid-19 and is therefore the third confirmed case in South Africa. We expect the results of the other six group members who had travelled to Italy within the next 48 hours,” he said.

The couple’s children were tested and their results had come out negative. However, as part of taking extra precautions, these children would remain in self quarantine until their parents had tested negative. At that point, they would also be tested to ensure that they remained negative. Until then they would be regarded as potentially infected and would not attend school, to cut the risk of spread to other children and teachers.

“This morning [Sunday], I had an opportunity to speak to the first confirmed patient. He was upbeat and jovial. I also spoke to the doctor who is treating him. She confirmed that this patient is responding well and is now asymptomatic. At the right time, as determined by the treating doctors, the patient will be retested to check his recovery progress.

“Later today, we will issue a statement and conduct live interviews to explain to the public the clinical observations and guidelines that are recommended to be followed in instances of asymptomatic patients. These will be based on the WHO [World Health Organisation] guidelines and treatment methodology and disease management approaches that countries like China (who have presented a very high recovery rate) have used in dealing with asymptomatic patients,” Mkhize said.

African News Agency (ANA)