Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
More manpower and resources have been deployed to all the 26 ports of entry, including small and major border posts, to enhance national responsiveness and ensure that Zimbabwe stays free of the COVID-19 disease.
COVID-19 disease is caused by coronavirus and has killed over 1 367 people while over 60 000 people have been affected across the world, but mostly in mainland China.
Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo yesterday visited Beitbridge Border Post to assess the state of preparedness to screen and handle travellers.
He said Zimbabwe remained free of the dreaded virus, adding that Government was not leaving anything to chance and would urgently fill vacant posts while creating new ones in view of the rapid spread of COVID-19 in China.
Dr Moyo said he was satisfied with the operations and state of affairs at most major border posts and airports.
But he said it was critical for the Government to increase manpower and resources to empower border authorities.
“The national response mechanism for surveillance and early detection of cases remains activated as of January 24, 2020, and I am also happy to announce that we have not recorded any cases of COVID-19 in Zimbabwe,” he said.
“We will continue with the momentum guided by the World Health Organisation as to when the global health alert will be removed. Assessments of major ports of entry and exit, and key health institutions for our country’s progress towards compliance with the international health regulations (IHR, WHO, 2005), are being conducted, hence our presence here today at the busiest ground port in the country, which clears 13 000 people daily (off peak) and 34 000 daily (in peak times).
“So far, we have assessed the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, Victoria Falls International Airport and Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport for their readiness, especially facilities for travellers screening, quarantine and isolation facilities”.
A number of ground ports including Plumtree, Victoria Falls, and Beitbridge, have been visited too and had their respective quarantine and isolation facilities assessed.
Dr Moyo said he was happy that work was going on as Government sought to address the gaps that were noted, and provide remedies that would ensure that no potential COVID-19 cases slip through.
Government is also training medical staff on the screening and treatment of suspected cases of the diseases.
The National Microbiology Reference Laboratory (NMRL) in Harare at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital (formerly Harare Central Hospital) and Mpilo Laboratory in Bulawayo, have been activated for testing COVID-19 and related diseases.
Once one has been tested for COVID-19, the results can be obtained in under five hours.
Added Dr Moyo: “Prevention is better than cure and this national responsiveness must not be seen as a Ministry of Health’s baby alone. We must remain vigilant and continue to assess our systems in order to plug any gaps. Let’s work together as line stakeholders and collaborate and share notes and ideas.”
Corporates such as Mimosa and Zimplats as well as WHO have chipped in to resource those charged with plugging leakages at Zimbabwe’s borders.
Matabeleland South Minister of State Abednico Ncube said it was critical for the Government to upgrade Beitbridge District Hospital in line with the workload it carries.