The country’s ninth confirmed case of Covid-19, a 50-year-old Harare man, died at Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital last night, eight days after his first symptoms appeared.
The man had returned from Britain and started showing symptoms on Wednesday last week. He alerted the local rapid response team, which went to assess him at home and collected samples for testing, which proved positive the next day.
Initially, the patient was being managed from home until Wednesday when his condition deteriorated resulting in him being taken to Wilkins Hospital, where he was admitted for critical care and management in the intensive care unit under the care of a specialist physician.
“The family has been informed and we are currently working with the family to ensure safe burial of his remains in line with regulations from our Public Health Act,” reads part of yesterday’s daily update from the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
The first death was recorded in Harare on March 23 and the second death occurred in Bulawayo on Saturday.
Meanwhile, confirmed cases of Covid-19 remained at 11 with all 21 samples run yesterday testing negative of the virus.
Government has so far identified and assessed seven more potential Covid-19 testing centres in Harare and a similar process is ongoing in Bulawayo and eight other provinces to decentralise testing and to allow more testing should it be necessary. The equipment used to measure the viral load of people living with HIV can be used to test for Covid-19 once the needed test chemicals are in stock.
The Government has reviewed case management, standards and regulatory frameworks with its latest action plan. An assessment of diagnostic, therapeutic and vaccines for compassionate use has also been completed and will be shared widely in due course.
Priority has also been given to strengthening of institutional arrangements with private healthcare professionals and institutions to coordinate information on screening, testing and treating of Covid-19 patients.
In its situational report released last night, the Ministry of Health and Child Care said since the first case of Covid-19 was imported and reported on March 21, a total of 395 suspected cases were tested, from which 11 have since tested positive.
A further 5 793 travellers arriving from countries with confirmed Covid-19 cases were still under surveillance out of the 20 512 who were on the surveillance list. The rest have since been removed from the surveillance list.
To increase testing of more suspected cases of Covid-19, the ministry said patients presenting with pneumonia and flu-like symptoms will now be tested for Covid-19, a change from the previous policy of only testing those with symptoms and whose travel history or possible contact with infected people increased suspicions.
The country’s case definition has since been broadened to include any patient with severe acute respiratory infection (fever and at least one sign or symptom of respiratory disease, for example, a cough or shortness of breath) and requiring hospitalisation and with no other disease cause that fully explains the clinical presentation.
In view of local transmission, the ministry has also prioritised strengthening of contact tracing and following confirmation of imported cases, it has also prioritised strengthening capacity of screening for all entry and exit points.