UPDATED: Zimbabwe launches Covid-19 preparedness and response plan

By Janet Munyaka
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa this Thursday morning launched Zimbabwe’s preparedness and response plan for the Covid-19 pandemic at State House in the capital. Speaking at the launch which was attended by Vice President Kembo Mohadi, UN Country Coordinator, Ms Maria Ribeiro, Cabinet ministers, diplomats and development partners, President Mnangagwa said no country is immune to the disease. The Covid-19 preparedness and response plan is aimed at minimising morbidity and mortality as well as associated adverse socio-economic impacts even though the country has not recorded a confirmed case of the disease.
President Mnangagwa said 31 African countries have now reported confirmed cases of coronavirus and the country cannot continue with business as usual as the disease keeps spreading.
“Indeed this pandemic surpasses all that we have experienced in Zimbabwe before or the world over. Therefore as Zimbabwe, we cannot continue with business as usual as it is no longer a matter of if but when our country will have these cases.
“Considering the scale and magnitude of the spread of this virus, it is very clear that no country is immune from the disease or will be spared from its impact,” said the President.
He said all preventative measures put in place by the government would remain activated until the World Health Organisation removes the Covid-19 health alert.
“My government through the Ministry of Health and Child Care has put in place and continues to enhance measures to minimise the import of COVID-19 into the country and ensure health safety of all citizens of our country.
“The national emergency preparedness and response mechanism for surveillance and early detection of any possible cases was activated and will remain active until after the WHO has removed the global health alert,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said Zimbabwe’s preparedness measures had been stepped up through heightened surveillance systems at national, provincial and district levels with special focus on all ports of entry throughout the country, mandatory screening of all visitors entering the country at all ports of entry.
As of 13 March 2020, around 10 000 had been screened and put on surveillance for Covid-19 after arriving in the country from countries with Covid-19.
The President said the country was at high risk of coronavirus due to vulnerabilities caused by HIV and other communicable diseases and high movement of people within the region.
“But considering the volume of traffic between Zimbabwe and other countries in our region and internationally, we need to step up and enhance our preparedness and response to the scourge,” he said.
The President urged all stakeholders to contribute to the national cause of preventing Covid-19.
“This is a call to action, so every sector and every individual must be involved in this national response to Covid-19. I would like to acknowledge assistance to Zimbabwe by the Peoples Republic of China and the UK government.
“I call on everyone to practice good personal hygiene including washing our hands frequently. Even when you put your hands in the pocket, when they come out, wash them,” he said.
Health and Child Care Minister, Dr Obadiah Moyo said Zimbabwe has no confirmed Covid-19 case yet.
“Zimbabwe has no case of COVID-19 to date, largely due to strengthened surveillance and coordination structures, as well as direct support from the Chinese and United Kingdom embassies,” he said.
WHO country representative Dr Alex Gasasira commended Zimbabwe for putting in place preventive measures against Covid-19.
“This is a pandemic that can be controlled. We are very grateful to you for the strong measures that Zimbabwe has already put in place that align to the recommendations WHO has given to countries to minimise transmission of this virus,” he said.