POLITICAL activist and president of opposition party LEAD, Linda Masarira has called on government to immediately quarantine every person arriving into the country from China, the epicenter of the novelCoronavirus so as to contain it before its too late.
By Michael Gwarisa
In a statement, Masarira said Zimbabwe was too reluctant and its approach towards the virus could expose millions of innocent Zimbabweans to the epidemic.
We need to urgently push for a quarantine Centre for everyone coming from that China region. Zimbabwe is not equipped to deal with an epidemic of that magnitude. If only one person enters with country with it we are in trouble.
“It is better safe than sorry. We always lack in preparedness for life threatening situations and it is always imperative to remind the authorities to be very alert in such circumstances,” said Masarira.
The Chinese Embassy in Harare has advised Chinese nationals to cancel and or delay flights into Zimbabwe until the situation has subsided. However, a visit by this publication on Monday revealed that Zimbabwe is still receiving quite a sizable number of Asian nationals through its major airport.
“The Corona virus is a life threatening issue. Our health port entry at robert mugabe international airport is not the best. The staff there don’t have proper protective clothing which fully covers them. They need proper masks not the ones used for clean up operations.
“We need a quarantine unit within the airport to assist in screening. There is also need to quarantine who ever has travelled from that region. The UK has actually set up a quarantine facility at airports were they are putting suspected cases for about 10-14days which is the incubation period of the virus. I have gathered that there are no longer any people coming from the epicenter as China has already instituted massive state wide quarantine.”
Masarira added that this type of virus often spreads before symptoms develop and that was a a potential gap.
“There is need for precautionary measures to be in place to save lives. Considering the prevailing woes in the health sector, Zimbabwean citizens might be exposed to infection if improper screening is done. Proper control measures should be activated at all points of entry. Just next door in South Africa, “Port health professionals routinely conduct temperature screening for all international travellers.
“Fortunately, OR Tambo International Airport is the only port of entry for all flights from Asia.” The department says all provinces have activated outbreak response teams and are on high alert to detect and manage cases that may arrive in the country. During the Ebola outbreak, the health Ministry in Zimbabwe was not prepared all they had was a thermometer! Right now our hospitals are working at about 30 % capacity. Our health systems our weak and surely any progressive person who cares about the livelihoods of Zimbabweans should be pushing our government to ensure preparedness in dealing with this deadly Corona virus.”
To date, approximately 4,515 individuals in China have been confirmed to have the new Coronavirus, according to the official China news agency Xinhua while another 106 deaths linked to the virus have also been reported. The Center For Disease Control (CDC) announced Tuesday that it recommends that travelers avoid all non-essential travel to all of China due to the virus outbreak.
Zimbabwe has set up Port Health Facilities all its points of entry into the country. However, there has been an outcry regarding the country’s state of preparedness to deal with the virus.