HEALTH minister Obadiah Moyo was yesterday grilled by Parliament over Zimbabwe’s preparedness to deal with the coronavirus should it be detected in the country.
Moyo had appeared before the Ruth Labode-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health to respond to a petition by the Senior Doctors Hospitals Association (SDHA) on the dearth of Zimbabwe’s health system and other grievances by doctors pertaining to conditions of service.
SDHA president Shingai Nyaguse doubted the country’s preparedness, but later when Moyo appeared before the committee, he said Zimbabwe was well prepared.
“Our laboratories are not at a stage of testing for the coronavirus. What it means is that the World Health Organisation (WHO) will be taking samples of suspected cases to laboratories in South Africa. Our infectious diseases hospitals should also be prepared with oxygen,” Nyaguse said.
But Moyo said all the ports of entry, and airports were ready to tackle the virus should it emerge.
“We have adequate thermo scanners at our borders. As far as isolation is concerned, we make sure that all visitors are well checked and should there be symptoms, we will put them in quarantine. The best quarantine facility is in Victoria Falls, where there are tourists,” he said.
“We are aware that the treatment utilised is antiretroviral drugs which works. The coronavirus emanates from animals and is transmitted to persons. It is a respiratory illness. We must educate people to always cover their mouths when coughing and wash hands.”
Moyo said his ministry had identified equipment for testing of the coronavirus.
“The equipment is there, but what is missing are test kits so that we do not continue to send samples to South Africa,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR), in a statement, said the government must enforce adequate surveillance measures at all ports of entry into the country.
“Such mechanisms must be in place to diagnose suspected patients, provide treatment facilities which minimise further spread to others and/or health workers and to do contact tracing for all suspected traces. Active surveillance, prompt diagnosis and effective treatment of infected individuals have been shown to be the mainstay of containing outbreaks,” ZADHR executive director Calvin Fambirai said.
He said this called for health workers to be mobilised, trained, equipped and well protected to deal with any suspected or confirmed cases of coronavirus.