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Panic grips Zimbabwe on third COVID-19 death

by Staff reporter
09 Apr 2020 at 08:32hrs | Views
Panic has gripped Zimbabwe after the coronavirus death toll rose to three from two in less than a week amid concern over the country's preparedness to deal with the pandemic.

Government late last night announced the death of a 50- year old Harare man who had recently travelled to the United Kingdom.

The latest tally comes barely a day after authorities announced the death of a 79-year old Bulawayo man.

The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human rights this week raised the red flag over government's preparedness and measures put in place to protect health workers who are on the front line fighting the pandemic.

Television personality Zororo Makamba last month became the first person to succumb to coronavirus, also known as Covid-19, less than two days after he tested positive in Harare.

Among the countries with the highest Covid-19 mortality rate is Algeria at 13.1 %. Italy is at 12.6% while the UK is 11.1%.

Spain and France are on 9.9% and 9.5% respectively while China is at 4.1%. CovHenry Ruzvidzo id-19 has so far killed 82, 421 people across the world from 1.4m confirmed cases.

The Ministry of Health and Child Care said on Tuesday the 11th confirmed case was a 79-year old male Bulawayo resident who died in Hospital on Saturday while waiting for his test results.

The results came out on Tuesday.

The Ministry said the patient had history of travel to a Hwange tourist resort between March 14 and 16.

Critics have questioned government's commitment to fight Covid-19, accusing authorities of allegedly misrepresenting facts relating to its ability to test.

There are questions how it took five days to get test results. With no vaccine in sight yet, Zimbabweans are now in fear as the virus wreaks havoc.

Zimbabwe also came face to face with the reality that the virus is being spread locally while some citizens take prevention and the lockdown lightly given that the Bulawayo man had no history of travel.

The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) on Tuesday called for an urgent audit of the circumstances leading to the death of the patient.

The association said it is deeply concerned by the continued lack of preparedness in handling severe COVID-19 cases in Zimbabwe.

"Equally, we are extremely worried by the possible exposure of health workers both in private and public facilities who are working without PPEs.

We urge the health authorities to account for the following grey areas in the management of this case," ZADHR said in a statement. Among ZADHR's concerns is that took five days (from April 2 to April 7) to get the result of the COVID-19 test a period which is rather too long.

The body said absence of diagnostic facilities for COVID-19 brings to question the state of preparedness of centre outside Harare.

"The inability to diagnose on time is a clear sign that health professionals attending the deceased were exposed as they lack essential protective equipment.

Does this case reflect the lack of knowledge on the case definition for suspected cases of COVID-19?

The patient was first seen on March 23 and was not advised to self-quarantine, tested for COVID-19, and managed as a suspected case," ZADHR said.

"It also reflects the minimal focus on other regions outside Harare. Lastly, the Minister of Health and Child Care must be made to account on what he referred to when he claimed the country was prepared for COVID-19 when such regional inequities and pervasive logistical issues characterise our response to date."

MDC Alliance vice president Tendai Biti said Zimbabweans have been exposed to a great risk due to a poor health delivery system and the impact will be felt more in the coming few days.

"We are not testing, the tests are not enough and when you test you need to put people in isolation and do contact tracing for all positive cases thoroughly, which is not happening," Biti said, adding there is "need to equip major hospitals across districts and provinces with adequate testing and treatment facilities".

Itai Rusike, executive director of the Community Working Group on Health said the public health and primary health care outreach which plays a key role in improving health equity have faced widening deficits as budgets have fallen for public health services, while a small share of the wealthier people have used costly and largely segmented private care services or travelled to other countries for care.

He said public health pandemics such as COVID-19 have shown that it is the public health infrastructure that "keeps all healthy and safe, and that prevention is primary".

Rusike said there were flaws in the system for the protection of public health signalled by the absence of safe water at the household level at a time when handwashing is one of the ways in fighting the pandemic.

Meanwhile resident in Masvingo, Chitungwiza and Mutare made urgent chamber applications seeking orders to compel councils and central government to provide adequate clean water during and after the national lockdown period to help slow down the spread of the virus.

Source - Business Times

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