Health

Coronavirus scare in Zim

TINASHE MAKICHI AND MUNASHE MUKAHLERA

China-based Zimbabwean student has been quarantined at Harare City Council-run Wilkins Infectious Hospital over a suspected case of the 2019 novel coronavirus, the first case to be detected in the country, Business Times can report.

The novel coronavirus, now known as Covid-19, has emerged from the Wuhan in China. Since December, the the death toll has surpassed 2000 people across the globe.

Tens of thousands have been infected globally. The virus spreads as a result of close contact.

Business Times yesterday visited Wilkins Hospital and there was a complete lockdown of the facility with security preventing people from getting into the premises.

The hospital was deserted and according to security manning the premises, the majority of the hospital staff was evacuated following a directive from the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare.

Patients were also evacuated. Results of the tests conducted on the suspected Covid-19 patient were not readily available by the time of going to print last night.

City of Harare health director Prosper Chonzi confirmed the suspected case to Business Times.

“We admitted a Zimbabwean on Tuesday for monitoring,” Chonzi said.

“We have done necessary tests and now awaiting results. As per our protocol, once we have someone meeting the case definition of a suspect, we move the other patients to another hospital in this case, which is Beatrice Infectious diseases hospital,” Chonzi added.

A security guard at the health facility said the hospital had been shut to the public.

“The facilities are closed and we can’t allow you to get into the premises because there is a suspected case of coronavirus,” a security guard manning the facilities told Business Times.

The latest development comes after at least 506 suspected cases have been put under surveillance in Zimbabwe.

Government is currently setting up a special unit at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals to serve as a national command centre for mitigation measures.

Government has since announced that there are measures being taken to ensure constant monitoring on all ports of entry.

Zimbabweans and Chinese citizens coming from the worst hit areas in China have been undergoing self-quarantine of two weeks at home, and are not allowed to go to public places, offices, or any gatherings.

Coronaviruses are common, and typically cause mild respiratory conditions, such as a cough or runny nose but some are more serious – such as the deadly Sars and Mers – Middle East respiratory syndrome.

The Covid-19, is a new strain that had not been previously identified in humans.

It starts with a fever, followed by a dry cough and leads to shortness of breath after a week.

Research now shows that an anti-malarial drug widely used in Africa in the 1980s and 1990s has been found to be effective on coronavirus patients, according to China’s Ministry of Science and Technology.

Chloroquine phosphate has been “unanimously” approved by experts in China to be used in the fight against the deadly Covid-19 virus.

The drug proved effective at treating and also preventing malaria for decades before malarial parasites developed resistance to it.

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