Government intensifies testing as COVID-19 cases rise

The Government has intensified testing for COVID-19, in an ambitious exercise set to cover at least 40, 000 people countrywide by month-end.

The upping of the game by the authorities whose testing for the deadly pandemic has been considered by some sectors of the society as very slow, comes at a time when confirmed cases last night shot from 14 to 17.

Bulawayo, which had two cases all along, now has five and trails closely behind Harare at seven.

Mashonaland East has four cases and Matabeleland North has one.

The criteria for those who qualify for testing has been broadened to incorporate a wider section of society.

Announcing the new measures on Monday, Vice President Kembo Mohadi, said civil servants reporting for duty and all persons working during the lockdown interfacing with the community are going to be tested.

“The taskforce received submissions from its sub-committees and based on these and other reports the following decisions have been made; the adoption of a strategy to increase testing to a 1 000 samples per day,’” said Mohadi.

“This strategy will see the teams in the Ministry of Health and Child care conducting tests from today, 13 April, 2020 in the country’s 10 provinces. The criteria for those to be tested has been increased to include all travellers coming into the country from affected countries in designated quarantine facilities.”

He added: “People with influenza like illness in hospital and communities and all contacts of confirmed cases regardless of showing symptoms of the disease. All community deaths happening in areas where there is local transmission (and) all the communities around a cluster of cases.”

Law enforcement agents, employees of service providers such as retail business, petrol attendants and food outlets and others, all fall under the bracket of those targeted for testing this month.

The Vice President said all cases of pneumonia admitted in hospitals (public and private), all people above 60 years of age admitted in hospitals with chronic diseases such as asthma, hypertension, diabetes and heart diseases also qualified for Covid-19 testing.

All health care workers in the frontline in local health facilities, infectious diseases hospitals, provincial and district hospitals and private institutions will also be tested.

Five laboratories have been capacitated and one of them began tests in Bulawayo on Sunday with others expected to be operational this week to cater for increased number of tests, Mohadi said.

He added that three private laboratories had also indicated that they had the capacity to conduct tests and were working with the Ministry of Health and Child Care to finalise logistics.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s 21-day COVID-19 lockdown, subject to review, expires on April 19.

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