The coronavirus has wiped 3 000 people and affected 78 000-plus in well resourced China from its first detection in the Wuhan province. There are widespread concerns of how much damage it would cause to Zimbabwe’s incapacitated health delivery system if it finds its way through.
Other countries, including the United States, have already rolled out mechanisms in anticipation of the spread of the disease so that it can be contained before causing extensive damage.
Stakeholders in Zimbabwe — which is dealing with massive incapacitation in health institutions and an ailing health delivery system — have expressed concern at the lackadaisical approach they say have been taken by the authorities.
Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals spokesperson Lenos Dhire on Thursday said they had identified some gaps in the manner in which COVID-19 was being handled in Zimbabwe and there was need to quickly close them for effective handling of the outbreak.
These included disinfecting the casualty department, expediting the provision of protective clothing for staff, improvement in communication in the rapid response team, setting up a screening test and immediately referring all infectious disease cases to Wilkins Hospital.
Such measures, he said, would help “minimise the potential mix of suspected patients with staff members and other patients”.
Such measures needed to be put in place in nearly all health institutions across the country, although this would be a taxing exercise given the economic challenges the country is currently grappling with.
Although Zimbabwe Medical Association (Zima) Mashonaland provincial chairperson Edward Chagonda this week told the Parliamentary Thematic Committee on Peace and Security that epidemiology and disease surveillance in the country was being handled “well”, another doctor, Stanford Chigumira, expressed concern over the health sector’s capacity to deal with a disease of such magnitude.
Chigumira said Zimbabwe was lucky that there had not been a single case of the coronavirus, because it would likely decimate the country.
“With this weak health infrastructure, we will be finished,” he said.
Although the government has assured the nation that it is prepared to deal with COVID-19, with the Chinese government helping to upgrade infectious diseases units at Wilkins Hospital in Harare and
Thorngrove Infectious Diseases Hospital in Bulawayo with medical teams receiving advice and instruction from Unicef and World Health Organisation, stakeholders believe the security system needed to be tightened.
Travelling to and from China has been strongly discouraged until the epidemic is brought under control.
More than 3 000 people in Zimbabwe have been placed on self-quarantine and medical surveillance after returning to the country from the Asian giant, including 2 000 students who were studying abroad.
MDC secretary for health, Henry Madzorera, however, said it was worrisome that there was a denialist attitude on COVID-19, which he said would cost the country.
Acknowledging government efforts, the former Health minister, noted that more could still be done.
Madzorera cited how HIV and Aids was first detected in certain groups in the US population and how the US government quickly acted on it as compared to Africa, something that eventually minimised its impact in America while ravaging Africa for many years.
“COVID-19 is once again going to end up an African problem because of the denialist attitude of our governments. We need robust and preventive interventions now to avoid being the epicentre of the pandemic tomorrow,” he said.
Madzorera implored government to stop all movement of people from China to Zimbabwe, to quarantine those coming from China for three weeks because “this so-called self-quarantine at home does not work” and demonstrated government’s disregard of the lives of Zimbabweans.
This followed indications by Health minister Obadiah Moyo that the government and the Chinese embassy were using “self-quarantine” to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
“We have made sure that all those Chinese personnel who have returned to their jobs, with the support of the Chinese embassy, really self-quarantine. The Chinese embassy is being very strict because it is also in its interest to make sure that none of their nationals comes out to be coronavirus positive. As such, they are giving us as much support as possible,” he said.
Madzorera, however, was sceptical about such an approach.
“Once the virus comes into Zimbabwe, it will be extremely difficult to stop its spread,” he said, instead insisting that locals should desist from visiting China.
He said a visit to a local public hospital was disheartening due to “a pathetic lackadaisical approach to duty by health workers” and said with such lack of commitment, COVID-19 could present a disaster to the country.
“There was no single medicine to give to the patient, and everything, including suture material, was to be purchased at a private pharmacy in town by relatives.
“This gave me insight into the government’s self-proclaimed state of preparedness. If we can’t treat a simple case of assault, can we handle COVID-19?” he queried.
Moyo said the Chinese government had also seconded 12 doctors based at Parirenyatwa Hospital and three of them were involved in matters to do with the virus.
Community Working Group on Health executive director Itai Rusike said it was essential to recognise the importance of community participation in dealing with epidemics of such nature.
“We also call on governments and global organisations to recognise and facilitate community participation through relevant policy and legislation and resource community participation in health systems. The current epidemic is not only of the Chinese government and the affected countries, but requires a global response,” Rusike said recently.
“It is not simply the health system itself which is at stake from the threat of a global coronavirus outbreak, but the health of the whole nations, today and for the future.”
Rusike urged the government “to immediately commence robust education awareness campaigns and provide accurate information to its citizens about the infectious coronavirus”.
He admitted that the current state of the country’s health delivery system needed to be boosted to ensure effective containment should the disease hit the country.
“It is undeniable that the current broken health delivery system makes Zimbabwe very vulnerable should the virus spread into this country. The government should increase its funding to health, and focus the spending on disease prevention,” Rusike said. NewsDay
Watch: South Africans give notice to foreigners to leave SA before June 16
With no sign of economic hardships disappearing in Zimbabwe, those who have escaped to South Africa are living in fear as locals have threatened to chase them if they don’t leave on their own accord.
Warnings of an operation to get South Africa rid of foreign nationals on the 16th of June continue to circulate.
Recently, a video surfaced on social media showing the ogarnisers of the operation dubbed, OPERATION DUDULA serving seven day notices to some foreign nationals to vacate the country.
WE WILL BE REMOVING ALL ILLEGAL FOREIGNERS BY FORCE!!!
SIDUDULA INSIDE SHOPS AND HAWKERS
IF YOU ARE OPERATING ILLEGALLY YOU BETTER PACK AND GO BEFORE 16 JUNE 2021!!!
– reads the notice.
While the poster specifies that illegal foreigners will be targeted it however does not state that documented ones will be spared.
Such attacks, as occurred before, ended up targeting all immigrants regardless of their status.
Dudula which means “push” brings horrific and sad memories of xenophobic attacks that happened in the country in 2015. Many people were killed, some burnt alive, while some were left homeless as their homes were destroyed.
Just like it happened before, the South African Police Services (SAPS) ignored warnings of imminent attacks on immigrants which then led to the bloodshed.
Similarly, at this point, the SAPS or any government have not said anything about the threats on foreign citizens in their country.
In one of the videos circulating online, the pro Dudula Operation people can be heard blaming the loadshedding on illegal connections supposedly done by foreign nationals.
— izim (@izim_og) June 13, 2021
Local truck drivers have been at loggerheads with their foreign counterparts accusing them of stealing their jobs and accepting low wages and inhuman working conditions.
The situation has left the Zimbabwean and other foreign drivers prone to abuse even when they are legally in the country.
Members of a local drivers organisation, well known for violent attacks on drivers and trucks, have been targeting foreign drivers sjamboking them while recording videos which are then spread online.
They do this to humiliate their victims and instill fear on their colleagues.
It's now a game, playing with a man's feelings. So humiliating you may never know how the next victim will respond. This was at Majuba powerstation over the weekend. @SAPoliceService @Dotransport @dewamavhinga @hrw pic.twitter.com/nxKlMfShGT
— SA Trucker (@rsa_trucker) June 7, 2021
No reports of arrest of the perpetrators have been made yet.
For the Zimbabweans and other foreigners in the country, it remains to be seen if they will still call South Africa home after the June 16 2021.
The date concides with South Africa’s youth day when they commemorate the heroics of the youths of 1976 who were massacred by the army after revolting against apartheid.
Fraudster arrested after swipping for $390 000 groceries
A fraudster has been arrested after he swiped for groceries worth more than $398 000 at OK Supermarket in Hwange using a bank card that had been tampered with.
The man, Brian Pedzisa of Chitungwiza, was arrested on Thursday and is suspected to be among a gang of people who have been using cloned cards and other bank card related tactics to con various retail shops across the country.
Detectives on Thursday pounced on Pedzisa at the supermarket, moments after he was about to get out after swiping for groceries worth $396 384.
Matabeleland North provincial police spokesperson Inspector Glory Banda confirmed the incident and said police were now looking for two other people linked to the sca
“On 10 June 2021 a gang of three fraudsters tried to defraud OK Hwange Supermarket of groceries worth $396 384.
One of the fraudsters successfully used an electronic Visa card to make purchases but before he could make off he was arrested by a team of watchful detectives who were working on a tip-off. Upon being interviewed the suspect revealed that he was working with two other accomplices who are still at large,” said Insp Banda.
He said the gang had used the same strategy to defraud OK Mart Victoria Falls of an undisclosed amount in groceries. He appealed to members of the public to assist with information leading to their arrest.
“The two accomplices are on the run anyone with information that could lead to the arrest of these two criminals can report at the nearest police station,” said Insp Banda.
He called on shop owners to enhance security to avoid such incidents which were on the rise in the country.
“As police we would like to implore shop owners to enhance security at their premises through use of alarm systems and Closed Circuit Television. Retailers should examine electronic cards and do necessary verifications before processing of electronic transactions. For the record some fraudsters misrepresent themselves as humanitarian workers.”
According to sources privy to the incident, the gang would approach the supermarkets seeking a quotation for groceries pretending that the transaction wanted would be effected from a nostro account. Later one of the gang members would return to make purchases using a Visa card whose microchip would have been tampered with. Sunday News
Gutu Inter-Africa bus and Honda Fit accident victims all from same family
GUTU- Police has announced names of the Gutu accident victims who were involved in a Honda Fit – Bus collision along the Gutu- Chivhu Highway yesterday.
The five were killed when their vehicle collided head-on with an Inter-Africa Bus near Matizha Business Centre in Gutu.
National Police Spokesperson Insp Paul Nyathi announced the names of the deceased family members who were travelling from Harare as Francis Chagweda (33)the driver, Mavis Chagweda (61), Lloyd Chagweda (31), Viola Chagweda (35) and Keresensia Mapaaona (28).
According to a family member, Oscar Chagweda the now deceased were travelling to Chiwara in Gutu for a family function when the tragedy happened.
An eyewitness told I ZIM that the accident occured after the Inter-Africa bus tried to overtake another bus. “It then encroached onto the lane of the oncoming Honda fit which swerved to avoid collision,” said the witness.
The Honda fit reportedly swerved off the road but the bus did the same resulting in the head on collision.
Only one person from the car survived the horific accident and was taken to Matizha clinic before she was transferred to Gutu Rural Hospital for treatment.
During the covid-19 induced Lockdown, government banned private kombis allowing only those registered under ZUPCO to operate resulting in little non-commercial vehicles overloading passengers.
Yesterday, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga who doubles as the Health and Child Care Minister announced another Covid -19 regulations which gave a waiver to public transport operators.
However, the transport sector is also now dominated by “mushikashika” vehicles some of which include Toyota Wish and Honda fit vehicles who have the capacity to carry 4 or 5 passengers , however some of these vehicles end up carrying as many as nine passengers.