… Patient died on Saturday, it takes government 3 days to confirm cause of death
Zimbabwe has recorded its second COVID-19 death, with a 79-year-old Bulawayo man succumbing to the disease on Saturday, in yet another illustration of the country’s preparedness in dealing with the virus.
By Phyllis Mbanje
The Bulawayo man’s results were only confirmed Tuesday, three days after his death.
The unidentified man, who becomes the 11th case, presented to his general practitioner on March 23 with a cough, fever and sore throat.
He had not travelled outside the country but had been to a tourist resort in Hwange between March 14 and 16.
According to the latest Health ministry updates the man was prescribed some antibiotics but his condition did not improve.
“He presented to a local hospital on Thursday where he was admitted as he was having difficulty in breathing,” a statement from the ministry said.
He was initially managed as a case of bacterial pneumonia but when he continued to deteriorate, a local COVID-19 response team was summoned and they took samples.
The patient died on Saturday while still waiting for results, which only became available on Tuesday.
The ministry said contact tracing was in progress.
The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) has called on the government and responsible authorities to urgently investigate the death the Bulawayo man.
In a statement, the doctors said they were deeply concerned by the continued lack of preparedness in handling severe COVID-19 cases in Zimbabwe.
ZADHR asked for clarity from health authorities on “grey” areas in the management of the Bulawayo case, which includes the time frame (five days) to get the results of the COVID-19 test.
They also queried why there were no diagnostic facilities for COVID- 19 .
“This brings to question the state of preparedness of center outside Harare,” the doctors said.
Zadhr was particularly piqued by the fact that the patient was treated at a regular hospital.
The doctors also concluded that 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).
“Does this case reflect the lack of knowledge on the case definition for suspected cases of COVID-19? 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?”
ZADHR called for the Health and Child Care minister Obediah Moyo to be held accountable for claiming that the country was prepared for COVID-19.
On Sunday, our sister publication, The Standard, reported how a Ruwa man’s testing had been bungled and how clumsily his quarantine was being handled.
So far the country has confirmed 11 COVID-19 cases.
Zororo Makamba’s death on March 23 was the first confirmed COVID-19 death in the country.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced a 21-day lockdown ending on April 29, but included a long list of “essential workers” who were allowed to continue working and this could inadvertently work against efforts to contain the coronavirus which has so far killed more than 80 000 people worldwide.
On Tuesday, Mbare Musika was reopened, with sceptics warning that this could hasten the spread of the disease.
There is still no queue for the virus, while a vaccine could be more than a year away.