Experts call for contact tracing

Herald Reporters

Quarantining all inbound travellers under strict conditions and strengthening contact tracing should be Zimbabwe’s focus as it seeks to curb more cases of Covid-19, the visiting Chinese team has said.

The team also recommended the upgrading of designated isolation facilities “one at a time”, depending on how the virus would be unfolding on the ground, to avoid over investing in facilities that might never be used.

In an interview following interactions between the visiting experts and the local medical team in Mashonaland East Province yesterday, Chinese epidemiologist Dr Deng Zhihong said since most cases confirmed in the province were imported, it was important to focus more on compulsory quarantine.

Dr Deng said instead of upgrading and rehabilitating all nine district hospitals for Covid-19 response at the same time, the province must focus on rehabilitating one centre, for now, and upgrade others depending on evidence emanating from the ground.

“Since most cases confirmed so far are imported, it means there is need to target measures on quarantining inbound travellers where strict rules are put in place to effectively prevent transmission into the community,” said Dr Deng.

The province was also told to strive to investigate the source of all infections and strengthen contact tracing, again to prevent further spreading of the virus.

Dr Deng was responding to a presentation by Mashonaland East Province provincial medical director, Dr Simukai Zizhou.

Dr Zizhou said the first case involved a male traveller who had returned from Dubai, who went on to transmit the virus to three of his family members.

He said the sixth case, presently in admission at Marondera Provincial Hospital, involved another traveller again who returned from South Africa and has been in quarantine at Marondera High School.

However, authorities could not establish the source of infection of the fifth case, who was co-diagnosed of Covid-19 and malaria from Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals.

The patient shuttled between Murehwa and Harare.

Dr Zizhou said taking advice from the Chinese experts, they were going to focus on rehabilitating Marondera Provincial Hospital for now.

“From the sharing of ideas we had earlier with the Chinese experts, I think we are going to focus on rehabilitating Marondera Provincial Hospital for now so that we have at least one facility that is ready to respond to any case that might arise.

“We do not want to over invest in facilities that might never be used,” said Dr Zizhou.

The visiting experts had a chance to assess the isolation facility at Marondera Provincial Hospital, presently under refurbishment, Mahusekwa District Hospital and Madamombe Clinic, all in Mashonaland East where they interacted with frontliners on their response to Covid-19.

Minister of State and Provincial Affairs, Aplonia Munzverengwi said the province in particular, and Zimbabwe in general, is benefiting a lot from the visit by the Chinese experts, after their country contained the outbreak with distinction.

Today, the team is expected to hold similar interactions with health workers from Mashonaland Central Province.

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