Treat everyone as a Covid-19 suspect: Acting Health Minister

In the wake of a massive increase in Covid-19 infections, coupled with the country’s limited testing capacity, acting Health and Child Care Minister, Amon Murwira, has urged Zimbabweans to treat one another as suspects for the pandemic.

Zimbabwe has as of Sunday recorded 2 502 positive cases of Covid-19 out of 119 866 tests conducted.

A total of 518 people have recovered while 34 have since succumbed to the deadly disease which has brought the whole world to a standstill.

Responding to Senator Morgen Komichi in Parliament last Thursday, on what could be done to improve the tests turnaround time for the country to get a realistic figure, Murwira said while the government tries to improve its testing capacity, everyone in the country should be treated as a suspect.

Komichi had said parliamentarians during a recent outreach had been informed that in some areas that blood samples were being taken to Harare, with results sent to people very late resulting in some running away from quarantine centres.  

“It actually shows that these figures that we have at the moment are very minimal, because I believe there are many more cases,” said Komichi.  

“What can we do to improve the test turnaround time for us to get a realistic figure?”

 Murwira said while the world over, test kits remained a challenge the government would try to buy more kits.

“Looking at what measure that can be taken, what we can do as a matter of importance is let us consider anyone as a potentially infected person, including ourselves,” said Murwira. 

“Tested people are considered as samples so what it means is that a sample does not include everyone but just a cross section. What it means is that if you meet someone; talk to them a metre away, even if they claim to be not infected, including yourself.  Even if we were to test each other and know whether one is positive or negative, the response remains the same.  Stay apart from each other, maintain social distance and sanitise your hands, put on your mask because the disease is incurable.”

Murwira said procuring enough test kits remained a challenge for Zimbabwe.

“As we speak, we are currently procuring many test kits but we have to wait or join the queue for the procurement, but we are going to get there,” he said.

“We also procure PCR machines because we should also take into consideration that the pandemic took everyone by surprise but we are trying by all means to test people.  So, we are trying by all means, to the best of our capabilities, but we are not saying we are doing everything, but we are trying hard.”

He added: “In addition, we want to test as many people as possible, but people should take it that everyone is infected so people should sanitise their hands, check temperature whilst we continue testing.  We ordered quite a number of test kits, last week we got 30 000 that were procured from China.  We also procured 200 000 so we are expecting them.  Whilst we wait for their arrival, let us not sleep and let us know that this disease is airborne, so let us not relax.”

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