The Zimbabwe government has confirmed the country’s first positive case of the global pandemic COVID-19.
The announcement was made by Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Obadiah Moyo, on state television Friday evening, Obadiah Moyo, revealing that the tests were conducted at the National Microbiology Reference Laboratory at the Sally Mugabe Central Hospital in Harare.
“The patient is a 38 year old Caucasian male resident of Victoria Falls who had travelled to Manchester, United Kingdom on March 7, 2020 and returned to his home in Victoria Falls on March 15, 2020 via South Africa where after arrival, the patient put himself on self-quarantine at his home, as per the advice to all travellers coming from COVID-19 affected countries,” the minister said.
“On realising that he was not feeling too well, he contacted his General Practitioner by telephone advising him that he had a persistent cough and sneezing. The GP alerted the local COVID-19 Rapid Response Team who immediately went to assess him and recommended that he continue self-isolation at home.”
Dr Moyo added that his specimens were collected and ferried to the National Microbiology Reference Laboratory for testing.
“He continued with self-isolation at home and is showing signs of recovery after supportive management at home. As a result of our preparedness, we managed to identify this first case in a timely fashion and make sure he was appropriately managed. Our teams are now engaged in contact tracing and are being assisted by the patient himself,” he said.
The ministry has called for citizens to be calm as they deal with this first case of COVID-19 in Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, before the government confirmed the first COVID-19 case in Victoria Falls, the resort town did present several suspect cases.
Last week, a tourist from the United Kingdom who visited the resort town tested positive upon arrival in her country.
She had arrived in Victoria Falls on the border with Zambia on March 7, and reportedly stayed at Ilala Lodge where she engaged in several outdoor events organised by Wild Horizons, before going down with a fever.
The Ministry of Health and Child Care said it had traced and tested the locals for the virus in Victoria Falls after they made contact with her.
Another case involving Victoria Falls emanated from Namibia when the country’s health minister revealed Thursday their third positive case of COVID-19 was a 61-year-old German man who entered there March 13 from Amsterdam via Zimbabwe.
According to media sources in Namibia the man had allegedly landed in that country on a plane from Victoria Falls on that day.
Another case that linked Victoria Falls was disclosed by the city’s health department, which noted it received a suspected case of COVID-19 from Mater Dei Hospital, who had a patient with Asthma from Victoria Falls.
However, when the local rapid response team checked the man’s history, they discovered he had no symptoms related to COVID-19 nor an Epidemiological link and treated him for asthma.
Asked to explain on a possible COVID-19 outbreak in Victoria Falls, during a press briefing on Bulawayo’s state of preparedness against the fast-spreading virus Friday morning, Assistant Director of Health Services Dr Khulamuzi Nyathi, said thorough tracing of the town had to be done in order to ascertain the exact part that could be affected.
“In terms of Victoria Falls, I am unable to comment but when you look at a place, for example, there was cholera in Harare and the epicentre was Glenview and Budiriro. In history taking of the cholera patient you are supposed to tease out that this person has been to Glenview and Budiriro and they actually consumed food or water from that area without necessarily treating or boiling it first,” he said.
Dr Nyathi said it was crucial to identify the exact area as assumptions would arise that the whole town could be infected when it maybe not.
“At times you find there is map (of incidence) but people don’t go to that information and say (that if you are from that place you must be sick, for example )they will say if you are from Harare and have diarrhea you must have cholera…
“Now when you have an epidemic you need to tease out and say which areas exactly because if you say one city has active local transmission, a city is a city, an example is, if someone has a flu in Emakhandeni, chances are they may spread the flu to people they go to church with but doesn’t necessary mean that Selborne Park will have the flu. But people will say the flu is in Bulawayo, so we actually try an tease out and see exactly which area the person would have come from,” he explained.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa already declared a national state of disaster over the novel virus and announced a raft of preventative measures to curtail its spread such as suspending gatherings of more than 100 people and postponing national events.