BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
Two members of Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga’s delegation tested positive for Covid-19 in China, forcing hundreds of people to be removed from the luxury hotel where they are staying.
Chiwenga is said to have gone to China on July 23 using a chartered plane and is receiving treatment for a throat ailment.
America’s Wall Street Journal yesterday reported that the incident had raised a lot of questions in China, which is fighting a resurgence of Covid-19 cases.
“Hundreds of people were removed from a luxury hotel in central Beijing and quarantined after a member of a group staying there with Zimbabwe’s vice-president tested positive for Covid-19, hotel guests and authorities from both countries said,” the publication reported.
“Two members of Chiwenga’s initial entourage were unable to join the trip after testing positive for Covid-19, the officials said, adding that the vice-president and others who travelled with him had received two doses of a vaccine made by China’s Sinopharm.”
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba was not reachable for comment.
Health deputy minister John Mangwiro, who normally accompanies Chiwenga on his frequent medical trips, said he could not comment as he was in Gokwe.
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Chiwenga has on several occasions been airlifted to seek medical attention abroad.
In 2019, he spent over six months in a hospital in China, battling a throat ailment.
In the same year, he was also admitted at an undisclosed Indian military hospital where he received treatment for poisoning.
When he became Health minister last year, he said government officials were no longer allowed to seek treatment abroad.
“We will not export our patients,” Chiwenga said at the time.
“We will not make referrals (to foreign medical facilities) for our patients. It’s everybody.”
Meanwhile, provinces across China have imposed tougher restrictions in an effort to contain the country’s worst coronavirus outbreak in months, with health officials attributing the surge in Covid-19 infections to the highly contagious Delta variant.
Authorities reported 328 symptomatic infections in July — almost equal to the total number of local cases from February to June.
“The main strain circulating at present is the Delta variant … which poses an even greater challenge to virus prevention and control work,” Mi Feng, spokesman for the National Health Commission, said at a news briefing yesterday.
It came a day after the World Health Organisation (WHO) urged governments globally to contain Delta before it turns into something deadlier and draws out the pandemic.
The WHO said an 80% average increase in Covid-19 cases was recorded over the past four weeks in five of the health agency’s six regions, a jump largely fuelled by the fast-spreading Delta variant.
First detected in India, the strain has now reached 132 countries and territories.
— Additional reporting by Al Jazeera