Zimbabwe should not be distracted by the few Covid-19 cases being confirmed in the country, but instead should intensify surveillance to ensure that no stone is left unturned, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.
WHO country representative Dr Alex Gasasira said Covid-19 was highly-infectious and as long as there was someone infected, Government should remain on its toes.
“Our recommendation at WHO is to continue intensifying surveillance. Let’s not be destructed by the numbers that are being confirmed or that are coming out negative. We know that this is a very infectious disease, so as long as we have anybody who is confirmed, we should maintain very high vigilance. The fact that we haven’t got much cases yet is not any reason for us to reduce vigilance,” said Dr Gasasira.
He said although there was a team of modelling experts currently analysing the impact of the national lockdown imposed on the country since last month on Covid-19 transmission, WHO was confident that the effect was positive.
“We know from evidence done by modellers that lockdown reduces risk of transmission, and I know there are teams of experts currently looking at data from Zimbabwe, but our thinking at WHO is that this (lockdown) could have been a factor in Zimbabwe not having too many cases or a sharp rise in Covid-19 transmission,” said Dr Gasasira.
He said before lifting the lockdown measures, Government should evaluate its capacity to test, isolate, treat and identify contacts of confirmed cases.
Dr Gasasira said so far, WHO was encouraged by steps being taken by Government in increasing the number of people tested for Covid-19, rehabilitating quarantine and isolation facilities as well as the treatment protocol which is in line with WHO guidelines.
He said in addition, Zimbabwe has also applied to join 89 other countries who will be taking part in a clinical trial coordinated by WHO, which will look at different treatment options.
Dr Gasasira said Zimbabwe should continue taking evidence-based decisions as it nears the end of the second phase of the lockdown.
“It is very important that if cases start increasing, the country should have the capacity to detect every new case, to ensure that case is isolated within the shortest possible time to limit further transmission and that all further contacts are immediately identified and monitored for 14 days.
“This will enable Zimbabwe not to have a situation where a lockdown is relaxed and then this is accompanied by a large number of new cases that cannot be contained to stop further transmission,” said Dr Gasasira.
Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Mangwiro dismissed claims that Government could be suppressing some figures.
“From the figures we are getting if there were lots of people dying it would come out, there is no way we would conceal that,” he said.
Latest statistics from the Ministry of Health and Child Care show that of the 12 498 rapid tests and 10 598 confirmatory tests, 37 people tested positive to Covid-19, 12 of which have since recovered.