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Zimbabwe Doctors Breathing Fire Over Death of Coronavirus Patient

Coronavirus, Zimbabwe

A doctors’ group in Zimbabwe says President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government should investigate the death of a 79 year-old Bulawayo man, who died of coronavirus COVID-19 last week but his death was announced a few days later by the Ministry of Health.

In a statement, the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) says they are worried about the manner in which the case was handled of the 11th person who tested positive for coronavirus.

“ZADHR is deeply concerned by the continued lack of preparedness in handling severe COVID-19 cases in Zimbabwe. Equally we are extremely worried by the possible exposure of health workers both in private and public facilities who are working without PPEs(Persona Protective Equipment).”

The ZDHR urged the health authorities to investigate why “it took five days (from 2nd April to 7th April) to get the result of the COVID-19 test a period which is rather too long. The absence of diagnostic facilities for COVID-19 brings to question the state of preparedness of centres outside Harare. What is the government doing to improve the turn-around time for tests?”

Indications are that the patient was treated at a local hospital where medical practitioners were exposed to the virus.

“… The patient was treated at a local hospital. Is this an infectious diseases hospital or a COVID-19 designated facility? Previously the Minister of Health and Child Care has assured the nation that the country is ready to deal with COVID 19 cases countrywide. The lack of clarity arouses lots of questions. The inability to diagnose on time is a clear sign that health professionals attending the deceased were exposed as they lack essential protective equipment (PPEs).”

The ZDHR further noted that it is worrying that the patient was not asked to self-quarantine.

“The patient was first seen on 23 March and was not advised to self-quarantine. get tested for COVID-19, and managed as a suspected case. What is the state of preparedness in centres outside Harare? ZADHR believes this case and the continued demise of severe cases of COVID-19 patients mirrors the utter lack of preparedness of the health system. It also reflects the minimal focus on other regions outside Harare.”

“The Minister of Health and Child Care must be made to account on what he referred to when he claimed the country was prepared for COVID-19 when such regional inequities and pervasive logistical issues characterize our response to date.”

Health Minister Obadiah Moyo was unreachable for comment as he was not responding to calls on his mobile phone.

Eleven people have tested positive for coronavirus in Zimbabwe.