Zimbabwe Health Minister Denies Hospitals Overwhelmed by Covid-19 Virus

Vice President Constantino Chiwenga

HARARE (Bloomberg) — Zimbabwean Health Minister Constantino Chiwenga denied reports that the country’s hospitals are overwhelmed amid a surge in the coronavirus, calling them an “exaggeration.”

“The recent escalation of cases of the pandemic in the country caused a high demand for health care,” Chiwenga said in an emailed statement. “Nonetheless, let me reassure citizens that Zimbabwe’s public and private health institutions still have adequate capacity to offer health services to all patients.”

Public hospitals are under strain due to a shortages of beds and equipment, the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights said on Jan. 6. The Health Ministry on Jan. 13 sought tenders for the supply of medical oxygen.

Should Covid-19 infections continue to rise, additional public hospitals may be directed to admit cases, Chiwenga said. At present, the Parirenyatwa facility in the capital, Harare, is the main provider of care to patients with the virus.

“There might not be any need of extending the 30-day national lockdown if the progression of the pandemic is tamed,” said Chiwenga, who is also the country’s vice president and issued the latest regulations in a bid reduce infections. Authorities have the capacity to conduct 6,000 tests daily, he said.

Zimbabwe on Jan. 14 reported 1,112 new cases of coronavirus and 47 deaths, the highest number of daily fatalities since the outbreak of the pandemic last year, according to data provided by the health ministry. That brought the total number of infections to 25,368 cases with 636 deaths.