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Zimbabwe Screening Travelers in Wake of Coronavirus Outbreak

People in various nations are being screened at airports.

Zimbabwe’s Health Minister, Dr. Obediah Moyo, says Zimbabwe is taking all necessary precautions as recommended by the World Health Organization to prevent the coronavirus from reaching or spreading in Zimbabwe.

Dr. Moyo said they are screening travelers at all ports of entry and they also use thermal monitoring machines to detect fever.

The ports of entry also have medical personnel ready to attend to anyone showing signs of the virus, and containment rooms to keep people suspected of having the virus.

The number of people under surveillance in Zimbabwe, who arrived from countries with recorded cases of coronavirus is currently 221, and rising by the day.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says Zimbabwe is using the WHO-prescribed intervention measures in order to curb infections in the country through travelers.

Dr. Alex Gasa confirmed that some people in Zimbabwe are under surveillance for the coronavirus but are not suspected of having the virus as they are not showing any symptoms of the virus.

“These are people who have come to Zimbabwe in the recent days from countries where there is confirmed coronavirus transmission. So, when they come to the point of entry and then fill the surveillance form, and they indicate that they have come from any of the infected countries, they are recorded and they are followed up, they are monitored by a health worker, every day to see whether they’ve developed any of the symptoms.

“None of the people from the infected countries has arrived in Zimbabwe with symptoms, but they are just documented and they are followed up every day for 14 days as we know, the recommendation is that anybody could be harboring the infection without having signs for as long as 14 days.

“So they are followed up for 14 days and the expectation is after the 14 days if they have not developed the symptoms, then there is no longer need to be followed up. So, they do not meet their criteria to be called suspect cases.”

He said the travelers are from various nations with confirmed coronavirus cases.

“The vast majority are coming from China. But as you know, there are about 18 countries, some in Asia, some in North America, Europe that have confirmed cases. So, anybody coming from any country with confirmed cases, is followed up.”

He said Zimbabwe has implemented the initial recommendations of the WHO.

“… On the 24th (of January) the Ministry of Health and Child Care discussed and started implementing some of these recommendations. That is why we can now know how many people have come into their country. How many people are being followed up, you know, on a daily basis. So, the right actions have been taken.”

He said more needed to be done to prevent an outbreak of the coronavirus in Zimbabwe.

“… We are working with them (government). The World Health Organization, the government with all its partners. As I speak to you, a series of meetings were held earlier today (Friday) to fine tune the enhanced preparedness plan, which has prioritized priority actions. So, yes, we are moving along. Zimbabwe is doing the right thing. And we hope that in the coming days and weeks even more will be done.”

China says it has nearly 10,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus. The virus has caused 213 deaths in China where it emerged late last year.

The World Health Organization says the worldwide spread of the virus is a global health emergency, as well as an "extraordinary event" requiring a coordinated international response.

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