Zimbabwe’s Preparedness for the Corona Virus Questioned while WHO Declares the Pandemic a Global Public Health Emergency
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The World Health Organization has declared China’s Corona virus a global emergency following reports that the virus is confirmed to have spread to some other countries raising fears for catastrophic consequences if it gets into countries with less developed health related infrastructure.

“I am declaring a public health emergency of international concern over the global outbreak of #2019nCoV not because of what is happening in #China but because of what is happening in other countries.”

…“We don’t know what sort of damage this #2019nCoV virus could do if it were to spread in a country with a weaker health system. We must act now to help countries prepare for that possibility.” Tweeted WHO’s Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Zimbabwe’s Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Obadiah Moyo when asked if the country would be able to handle the virus if it comes to Zimbabwe, he said that they will attend to it but with a great deal of difficulty considering the country’s current operating environment.

On a question and answer article published on the Ministry’s website on 28 January this year, Dr Moyo said there is no cure for this virus at the moment and the treatment that is being administered is only for treating symptoms and preventing deaths.

“There is no cure for nCoV as with most viral infections. Aim of treatment of to address symptoms and prevent deaths, hence mostly supportive therapy. So far only exceptional treatments have been used in China with success in stabilizing patients, that is Kaletra (ritonavir and lopinavir) with” (sic). He said.

Former Minister of Education, Sports, Arts and Culture, David Coltart who is also the Treasurer General of the Nelson Chamisa led opposition MDC when responding to a tweet by Jacaranda News on South Africa’s preparedness to the virus, said “Meanwhile back in Zimbabwe our incompetent Cabinet is clueless and can’t even manage the health sector for a relatively healthy population. This is not surprising when the Minister himself isn’t a doctor.”

Minister Moyo’s qualifications sparked controversy following difficulties in him proving as genuine his degree and the institutions that he attended for his education in the medical field according to a 12 October 2018 article in the Zimbabwe Independent written by Tinashe Kairiza and Andrew Kunambura.

Commenting on the country’s preparedness to handle the Corona virus, Peter Chapepa said “Health minister sounded a bit casual when he said we don’t have direct flights from the epicentre so will be doing secondary screening (whatever that means) as all on board would have been already rigorously screened en-route to zim by addis, jhb etc (sic).”

In the same vein, William du Plooy registered concern over the secondary screening approach saying that it does not take into consideration the fact that there are some passengers who could have been affected and yet coming from other countries besides China and thus can cause a national crises when they enter the country without proper screening.

Earlier on he had tweeted that “Zimbabwe is not prepared for the Coronavirus, meanwhile there is a suspected case in Zambia, and confirmed cases in Ivory Coast and Kenya. This is going to be another Cyclone Idai scenario with a useless government who has made no preparations. Are they even screening at RGM Int?”

Zimbabwe’s health system is in shambles as evidenced by low salaries induced strikes by medical practitioners in the public sector as well as lack of drugs and proper medical equipment despite the country’s Finance Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube saying that the country’s health system is strong and that the nation does not appear vulnerable more than anyone else while speaking at Davos in Switzerland recently.

Corona virus is a deadly virus that is believed to have started in China and is now spreading to other parts of the world thus prompting the World Health Organisation to declare it a global emergency.

Its symptoms have been said to be a runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat, fever, chest pains, shortness of breath and rapid heartbeat while in severe cases it can cause acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

It is believed to spread through the air by coughing and sneezing as well as through close personal contact such as handshakes and touching something that has been contaminated by the virus.

People have been advised to adopt good health practices such as regular thorough cleaning of hands before touching food and to wear the recommended masks as well as to thorough cook food before eating and to avoid unprotected contact with both wild and farm animals.

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