World, Africa, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

Zimbabwe, with China's help, better tackles pandemic

Figures 'authentic', and if there were lots of people dying it would have been known, health officials say

John Cassim   | 12.05.2020
Zimbabwe, with China's help, better tackles pandemic

HARARE, Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwean government is managing the COVID-19 pandemic better than other regional countries owing to the assistance from China, according to officials.

“We have a good relationship with China and the moment we heard about the pandemic, we started monitoring closely.

"We got medical expert advise and some Chinese handbook, that’s why we seem to be doing better than other regional countries,” Deputy Health Minister Dr. John Mangwiro said.

South Africa is the worst virus-hit country in the Southern African Development Community region with 10,652 confirmed cases, 4,357 recoveries and 206 deaths.

Zambia confirmed 267 cases, 117 recovered and seven deaths and their graph keeps pointing upwards, while Zimbabwe registered 37 confirmed cases, 12 recoveries and four deaths so far.

Zimbabwe maintained a clean sheet for an entire week on April 30-May 7, before new cases were recorded again.

The Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania are some of the countries in the region with high number of COVID-19 cases, according to the WHO.

But despite its health delivery system battling with shortages of medical supplies, personal protective equipment for health professionals, and even salaries for doctors and nurses, Zimbabwe is doing much better.

Referring to the reason of the country's low numbers, Mangwiro said: "All we are doing is to follow the World Health Organizations (WHO) guidelines, taking from what the Chinese did in Wuhan and other regions.”

He added: “As the government, it’s our duty to let people know the truth, our figures are coming from proper tests and the results are there for all to see.”

Zimbabwe closed its borders and airports on March 30 when it announced its first 21-day lockdown with restricted movements and a ban of church, sports, and leisure gatherings.

The lockdown was later extended for another 14 days with a relaxed approach to allow businesses to start operating, but testing of all workers is mandatory while a new law that criminalize non-wearing of a mask is now in place.

After originating in China last December, COVID-19 has spread to at least 187 countries and regions. Europe and the US are currently the worst-hit regions.

The pandemic has killed over 286,300 worldwide, with total infections more than 4.17 million, while recoveries exceeded 1.46 million, according to figures compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University.

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