Health

Doctors, nurses strike amid coronavirus crisis

PHILLIMON MHLANGA

Doctors and nurses have downed tools in protest against poor working conditions throwing into disarray government’s plans to contain the coronavirus.

Nurses Association of Zimbabwe president Enock Dongo confirmed to Business Times yesterday nurses have withdrawn their labour country wide citing a serious exposure due to lack of protective equipment.

“It’s still very difficult because our hospitals are not up to standard. Nurses are the front liners and they are a high risk.

If they confront a coronavirus patient they are likely to be infected as well because they are not protected. We know this could not be the time to go on strike but, the situation is dire and this has forced us to go on strike.”

Zimbabwe is struggling to cope in the face of the deadly coronavirus crisis with the number of infected people rising.

No comment could be obtained from Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association president, Tawanda Zvakada as his phone went unanswered.

But in a letter to CEOs of hospitals, Zvakada said ZHDA members had no protective clothing.

“The way in which the hospital is to be functioning still remains vague.

Whilst you continue to run around putting things in place we would like to make it clear in no uncertain terms that our members will not be able to continue carrying out their duties with immediate effect,” Zvakada said in a letter dated March 24.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa closed all the country’s borders for all nonessential travel as part of new measures to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Public gatherings of more than 50 people have been banned and encouraged residents to avoid in-country travel.

A blanket ban on night clubs, bars, beer halls, swimming pools, gymnasiums, movie houses and sporting activities have been put in place.

Informal markets remain open, but citizens have been encouraged to limit their visits.

Information Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa said the situation was dire.

She admitted the scale of the mountain that Zimbabwe’s hospitals and health workers must climb is daunting and there are glaring gaps in preparedness.

The number of confirmed cases in Zimbabwe has risen to three. And one Zororo Makamba, a television personality, succumbed to the deadly virus.

“This is a very difficult time we are in. We are struggling like other countries. Government cannot prepare as if we knew COVID-19 was coming. The country is struggling but we have a task force which will be working on the operation side. But, government is very much seized to save our people. We are all struggling,” Mutsvangwa said at the post Cabinet briefing on Tuesday this week.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday set up a 11-member inter-ministerial ad hoc taskforce to deal with the outbreak of coronavirus, which will be chaired by Health and Child Care, Obadiah Moyo. Moyo will be deputised by July Moyo, the Minister of Local Government and Public Works.

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