Govt releases US$5.6m for kits as it doubles #Covid-19 testing

Below is Monday’s full MEDIA BRIEF BY MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES, HON MONICA MUTSVANGWA

My fellow Zimbabweans;

Tonight I address you; at a time as a nation we are mourning the loss of one of its gallant sons of the soil, the late National Hero, Cde Perence Shiri, who succumbed to COVID19. May his soul and those of all Zimbabweans we have lost to COVID19 rest in peace. Truly, COVID19 knows no rank, race, and religion.

This past week, the nation witnessed a further jump in its confirmed cases with local cases statistics as of 2 July 2020 standing 2828, a 98 percent increase from last week’s figure of 1426. Most of the local cases are in Harare (1227), Bulawayo (897), Midlands Province (237) and Mash East (157).

The COVID19 war is now in our communities and we have to increase our vigilance and the need to adhere to protective and preventative measures cannot be over emphasized. The more we get into crowds, the more we expose ourselves to COVID19.

This afternoon, the National Taskforce on COVID19 met to receive reports from its Subcommittees and deliberated on the following matters:

  • COVID19 TESTING

The Taskforce received a report that in light of the rising COVID19 figures which indicate increased risk in communities, the number of PCR tests done per week has doubled with average tests per day standing at 1,130 as compared to 559 from the week ending 24 July 2020.

My fellow Zimbabweans, we will continue to increase our testing levels in order to ensure that those who are at risk and have been exposed receive the medical attention they need. As such, the Ministry of Health and Child Care will be flighting a 72 hour tender on the 4th of August 2020 for the procurement of 4 PCR machines, 220 000 PCR test kits, 25 000 antigen RDTs and other laboratory consumables. The USD5.6 million already allocated by Government will be utilised for this procurement.

Resultantly, in order to address testing backlog and delays in the issuance of test results, the Taskforce was informed that Laboratory Staff at Mpilo (Bulawayo) and St Lukes’ (Lupane) Hospitals have been trained to use the Abbott Platform which will assist in clearing the backlog at the National TB Reference Laboratory (NTBRL) in Bulawayo. Meanwhile, an Information Technology solution on the issuance of results is being developed by the Ministry of Health and Child Care in collaboration with the Harare Institute of Technology to reduce the delays in the issuance of results.

  • COVID19 HOT SPOTS

An analysis of COVID19 hotspots continues to be made across the country in order to channel the proper resources to these hotspots. The latest hotspots to be analyzed are the Fresh Vegetable markets in Harare and Bulawayo. It was noted that persons from different environs visit these markets and testing would give an indication of infection rates.

The Harare Rapid Response Teams conducted tests at Mbare Musika yesterday and today and of those tested, 7 (8.75%) were positive. It was also noted that there is high risks posed by these markets which include: crowding of clients, poor sanitation conditions for vendors and no easy donning of masks by the general public and vendors.

This errant behavior in the form of continued disregard of COVID19 containment measures which includes physical distancing, wearing of face masks and sanitization is also being witnessed in public spaces such as supermarkets, malls and banking halls.

In light of the above, 4 additional teams Rapid Response Teams are now being established, 2 for Chitungwiza, 1 for Ruwa and 1 for Epworth. Treasury has allocated Harare ZWL$10 million, Bulawayo ZWL$6 million and Chitungwiza ZWL$2.5 million for the COVID19 teams especially for Rapid Response Teams.

My fellow Zimbabweans, COVID19 is real and let us not expose ourselves through reckless and errant behavior which will not only affect you as an individual, but your loved ones and the nation at large.

  • Contravention of the Public Health Act

The Taskforce was informed that some private and public institutions are refusing to admit patients who have no COVID19 test results. This is contrary to provisions of the Public Health Act and Government warns those medical facilities who have been contravening this Act. All hospitals both public and private should admit all patients without the pre-requirement of a COVID-19 test and proceed to do a PCR test on admission. The latter will determine whether the patient will be further managed in the green or red zone.

  • Frontline workers

The Taskforce received an update on the payment modalities for all non-health frontline staff allowances which are being finalised. The allowances will be paid according to the different risk categories which are low, medium and high. The non-health frontline workers will receive their allowances backdated since they had not yet started receiving these. Embassy staff is to be also considered as frontline workers as they are involved in repatriations.

Conclusion

Fellow Zimbabweans, we are losing lives, no day passes without a COVID19 related funeral taking place. But we can still prevent this, save ourselves and save others by doing that which we are guided to do.

Good night.

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