Relief for Zim as mobile covid-19 test laboratories arrive

HARARE – Zimbabwe will soon be able to detect new coronavirus cases at its borders following the arrival of mobile test laboratories in the country.

HealthTimes Reporter

Strive Masiyiwa, the African Union (AU) Special Envoy, said he acquired the laboratories to help Zimbabwe deal with the rising number of Covid-19 cases. The southern African country, which is experiencing its worst economic crisis in a decade, is struggling to deal with the deadly coronavirus pandemic that has so far claimed 26 lives and affected over 2 000 people.

A few weeks ago someone made a presentation to me on a new Technology for T-Testing. I immediately spotted its potential to help African countries at borders and airports. It can also help airlines. It is called a Mobile Laboratory,” he said on Friday.

“So I acted. We put it on the Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP) so that every African country can buy. Several African countries have now ordered the system for their borders. I ordered them using my own money; five laboratories for US$150 000 for the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa.”

Masiyiwa added that he then dispatched teams to the border post and, working in collaboration with Zimbabwe’s Health ministry and the Immigration department, have built a full laboratory and staffed it.

“Although the work was done by teams from Econet’s engineering teams working with our Ambulance business Medical Air Rescue Services (MARS) it is for Free as part of our own efforts to end this pandemic. Our plan is to put such systems at all border posts and airports so that people can goods can move quickly.

“Instead of waiting five days for results, they can get them within 30 minutes,” he said.
The latest development comes after President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the country could not afford to be complacent given the fact that neighboring South Africa was recording an exponential rise in cases, and now ranks fifth globally in terms of infections.

As a result, Mnangagwa announced a raft of stricter lockdown measures including imposing a curfew and imploring all non-working sections of the population to stay at home, except for purposes of securing food, water and health services, as a way to curb rising cases of Covid-19.

The president also reduced operating hours for businesses, which are now running from 8 am to 3 pm from the usual 4:30 pm, with the exception of providers of essential services, while only registered small and medium enterprises are allowed to operate and must adhere to World Health Organization (WHO) Covid-19 regulations.
Mnangagwa said food markets will also remain open but must observe set measures, while inter-city public transport to rural areas remains banned.

Approved buses and vehicles for public transport are expected to increase their adherence to public health standards, while all business operations are expected to observe and enforce WHO anti-Covid-19 standards.
Mnangagwa said public gatherings for social, religious or political purposes remain banned, with funeral gatherings also remaining curtailed.

“These measures are being taken for our collective safety. As Zimbabweans, we have to win the war against the Covid-19 pandemic,” Mnangagwa said, adding that he will review the measures once the situation improves.
“Another worrisome development is that more and more cases of local transmissions are being reported at places of work. Covid-19 is thus no longer a problem out there, far and beyond our borders, rather it is now here amongst us and in our communities,” he said.

Zimbabwe first imposed a total lockdown at the end of March, which had been gradually eased over the past months as more sectors of the economy opened up.

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