Zimbabwe's Covid-19 death toll more than doubles within a week

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa. His country's Covid-19 death toll has nearly tripled within a week.
Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa. His country's Covid-19 death toll has nearly tripled within a week.
Image: REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

It took Zimbabwe five months to reach 1,000 Covid-19 cases but within a week the country is approaching 3,000.

As of Saturday, there were 2,434 confirmed cases, including 518 recoveries and 34 deaths. For the past two weeks, Zimbabwe has been registering an average of 717 cases per week.

Health-care workers say they are fearing the worst. 

“I haven’t tested in a week but I have had interactions with people who got it. I don’t have to wait to test — I’m already living like a person with it,” said a nurse.

She told TimesLIVE that most of her colleagues were on sick leave, adding that she feared a time would come that hospitals had very few working doctors and nurses.

“There are backlogs in results. At times, a person’s results are released after they pass on. So imagine those that we fail to trace but they got into contact with the late?” she added.

The biggest referral hospital in the country, Parirenyatwa Group, said in a statement that “all staff and patients will be assumed Covid-19 positive unless tested and confirmed otherwise”.

With a few poorly paid health workers on the front line countrywide, President Emmerson Mnangagwa during the week donated food parcels consisting of sugar, mealie meal, cooking oil and flour to doctors.

But the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) rejected the gift, saying there’s a need to improve the health sector and remunerations.

The ministry of health and childcare on Saturday recorded 138 cases of which 10 were from SA returnees and 128 were local transmissions. Last week, there were 72 cases of returnees from SA in one day. The sudden surge in local transmissions forced the government to return to an almost total lockdown in Bulawayo and Harare, the hotspots of infections.

With no cure in sight but “make-do” medicines to help people clear their respiratory tracts, herbs such as garlic, ginger, eucalyptus leaves and oils are suddenly much sought after.

“I used to sell garlic for about US50 cents now it’s US$1 and I constantly run out of supply. It’s the same for ginger and eucalyptus oil with more people scared of flu-like symptoms. Before this period one would opt to buy cabbage but now it's life saving herbs first before food,” said Sandra Moyo, a vendor at a vegetable market in Bulawayo.

Pharmacies say sales of vitamin C tablets, cough syrups and vapour rubs have surged as people stock up.


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