Editorial: Zim’s lack of preparedness on coronavirus shocking

Health minister Obadiah Moyo

Since the first report of a case of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in China, there has been growing concern in Zimbabwe over the preparedness or lack of it on the part of the government to deal with the disease.

NewsDay Comment

While 3 000 people have been put under self-quarantine, government has still not showed its seriousness in terms of proper structures in the event that there is an outbreak.

The suspected case at Wilkins Hospital should have jolted the government into action, but instead it exposed just how ill-prepared we are as a nation.

The officials were sending conflicting statements and if indeed it had turned out to be positive there would have been chaos and pandemonium, making it difficult to calm the situation.

The chaos and confusion that ensued only confirmed that despite our corky stance and fancy speeches, we remain a sitting duck should this dreadful disease swing our way.

A picture of the scientists who conducted the tests was lambasted on social media as it showed the scanty dressing. While in other countries the gear is quite heavy, our local scientists were putting on mere lab coats which barely covered their bodies.

It is more infuriating that a whole Health minister in all his wisdom publicly told the nation that the few check points and a small team of scientists will be a buffer against Coronavirus which even the most sophisticated nations are battling to contain. China with all its resources and state-of-the-art facilities is battling to contain the virus which to date has killed 2 800 and infected 82 238 more people.

While initially it seemed like the chances of the sneaky disease getting down here were slim, the current scenario speaks otherwise. Our worry stems from the fact that two African countries already have confirmed cases, and the virus has opened up several entry points besides China.

What is particularly frightening is the fact that it is slowly spreading to Africa, Europe and this makes Zimbabwe the more vulnerable as the sources of entry into the country are now plenty. The situation prevailing in Italy right now is scary. Europe is now threatened as the situation in the country seems to be growing more serious than initially anticipated. Cases linked to Italy are now being recorded in the neighbouring countries.

Assurances from both President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Health minister Obadiah Moyo that the country is prepared to deal with the Coronavirus (COVID-19), should it need to are not enough without clear strategies on how the disease will be dealt with.

Of concern mostly is the state of the health facilities and lack of equipment. Senior doctors appeared before the Parliamentary Health Committee this week saying their equipment was obsolete and unfit for use on people.

What a calamity it will be if there is an outbreak in the absence of a proper health system and resources to protect the citizens.

Our call to the government is that they re-visit their strategies and ensure that we are safe. The Health minister is mandated to keep the nation updated on the preparedness and should also consult other nations other than China. Resources should be rerouted towards creating a solid defence.