Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr Obadiah Moyo has urged Matabeleland provinces, which house several ports of entry, to remain vigilant and continue assessing their health systems against any possible outbreaks of the coronavirus.
The minister said provincial health and port of entry teams in the country’s southern region must plug any gaps to make sure they avoid being the first ones to bring the coronavirus.
“It’s not pleasing to be noted as the border post that allowed the coronavirus to enter into Zimbabwe. Don’t just look at it as the entry into Bulawayo only, it’s the entry of coronavirus into Zimbabwe. We don’t want the entry point to be Matabeleland as the virus is a reality. It is there in China and other countries, so we don’t want that reality in Zimbabwe through Matabeleland provinces,” Dr Moyo said at a meeting in Bulawayo to discuss coronavirus screening and preparedness on Friday.
Dr Moyo urged the local teams to continue assessing their delivery while improving their health services and isolation units in all health institutions.
“We must not be found wanting as far as coronavirus is concerned. We don’t want a situation where we end up importing cases into Zimbabwe. We want to be closed and make sure all borders are fully functional so that is why we are here to discuss the state of preparedness,” the minister said.
“We are making sure there’s enhanced preparedness for identifying imported cases so our surveillance system is fully functional, starting with early detection in our airports and isolation facilities for our suspected cases. As for laboratories, we must be able to confirm, almost immediately such cases thus we have identified in the private sector and in government institutions, necessary equipment for testing the coronavirus.”
He noted that once the ministry beefed up on the two types of testing kits, including one for rapid results, it would distribute them to all provinces.
“Training is of vital importance and we want all our health workers protected. We don’t want to end up with infected health worker. So we have made every effort to make sure there is adequate protective equipment and that we remain without coronavirus,” Dr Moyo, said, alluding that the World Health Organisation (WHO) was also making a needs assessment to see what local institutions needed.
“We didn’t have Ebola, we don’t have coronavirus although cholera lived with us and we have to combat cholera. These conditions can be only rid of by us putting heads together and remove porosity of our borders.”
The minister was pleased authorities in Botswana had tested negative for its five suspected cases.
“Botswana tested negative for coronavirus and that is a good sign but people must be awake. We had an inter-ministerial meeting in Harare that is why we are here so that everyone is well versed. No one will say they were not told. We have to hold meetings, and workshops with medical associations. I hope to meet with the Zimbabwe Medical Association president. Let’s encourage workshops where we start talking about coronavirus and how we can all be prepared to combat it,” he said.
“I am very happy with state of preparedness, specifically Bulawayo. I hope to see what is like in Plumtree. We must hold fort, don’t give up and make sure coronavirus doesn’t escape through some porosity.
“We have to plug all gaps and we will continue receiving updated information from WHO and the African Centre for Diseases Control. I like the courage, and enthusiasm to fight so that does it does not enter then we can have a good Christmas because if we have virus now it will take us long time to try rid of it again,” he pointed out.
Also in attendance were officials from the heatlh ministry, provincial medical directors, health workers plus Ministers of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Bulawayo and Matabeleland North, Judith Ncube and Richard Moyo.
Ncube noted that according to WHO, coronavirus was a global health emergency that has potential to spread to other countries.
“Hence the government through the health ministry setting up this to discuss state of preparedness and response to coronavirus as southern region and country as whole,” she said.
Moyo described coronavirus as a global threat that required concerted united efforts and urged the media to report accurately and keep communities well informed.