The Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe has come up with recommendations to its own nationals who arrive into the country, by urging them to embark on a self-quarantine exercise for two to three weeks, as measures to prevent a possible spread of coronavirus.
The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was first reported from Wuhan City in China, on December 31 last year.
So far, the virus has claimed over 600 lives in mainland China, with total number of infections exceeding 30 000.
The virus has killed two people outside mainland China, one in Hong Kong and another in the Philippines, and at least 25 countries have confirmed cases.
Africa has not yet recorded any confirmed cases.
Speaking in Bulawayo on coronavirus screening during a tour of health facilities in Bulawayo and Matabeleland Friday, Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr Obadiah Moyo, disclosed that the Chinese Embassy in Harare made the initiative on its own, calling for its nationals to opt for self-quarantine.
“The Chinese embassy came forward with solutions, for example to make sure anybody who happened to be in China, would have to subject themselves to 14 to 21 days of self-quarantine, which is good. We didn’t tell them that but they are the ones who told us ‘that is the way we want to go’,” the health minister said.
Dr Moyo said the health ministry was grateful for that recommendation, as that was an indication the Chinese were also taking precautions to ward off the spread of coronavirus.
“We are very grateful in the sense that they are really making sure the virus that whoever contracted the diseases must not spread to us. This is something which is thoughtful,” he noted.
Likewise, the health minister issued a travel ban urging Zimbabweans to park their travel plans temporarily.
“We are saying let’s not travel unnecessarily to those countries where the coronavirus is. Let’s not go to China right now. Let’s wait, postpone your trips to any other countries, which are affected. Let’s stay home and stay put,” Dr Moyo pleaded.
Dr Moyo was happy that the Chinese government had indicated that it would look after Zimbabwean students studying in China, after reports indicated that some people are panicking over their children or relatives living there.
“I am also happy, the Chinese will be looking after our children who are studying in China so there is no chance of having any outbreak in Zimbabwe,” he said, adding that as health minister, he was “not going to leave anything to chance but make sure Zimbabwe is spared from the coronavirus.”
He noted that the country’s health systems needed to improve on surveillance, detection and confirmation and treatment of any possible coronavirus cases in the country.
Meanwhile, the Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has asked for US$675million to help countries address the expected spread of the virus.
WHO is working closely with global experts, governments and partners to rapidly expand scientific knowledge on coronavirus, to track the spread and virulence of the new virus, and to provide advice to countries and individuals on measures to protect health and prevent the spread of this outbreak.