By Thabani Zwelibanzi
No cases of coronavirus, the virus that originated from China and is spreading across the world, have been reported in Zimbabwe, but the Chinese embassy to the southern African nation has urged Zimbabweans who have returned from that country’s worst-hit areas to undergo self-quarantine for two weeks at home, not to go to public places, offices or any gatherings.
“If suspected symptoms appear, they are asked to immediately seek medical attention and report to the embassy,” the Chinese embassy advised.
“Should there be confirmed cases in Zimbabwe, China stands ready to work closely with the Zimbabwean government and provide all possible support to jointly treat the patients and contain and mitigate the situation.”
The embassy said a Chinese medical team in Zimbabwe had put together a special task force to mitigate the situation.
In addition, the Chinese embassy urged those that are in China’s worst-hit areas to postpone their return to Zimbabwe until the situation eases to reduce bringing the virus to the southern African nation, whose health systems are already under severe stress.
The Chinese embassy said it was making an all-out effort to prevent the virus from spreading to Zimbabwe.
“We have informed Zimbabwean authorities in health, foreign affairs, airport (sic) and other ports of entry of the latest developments of the epidemic and established an information-sharing mechanism with them,” a statement from the embassy said.
“We have requested Chinese nationals coming to Zimbabwe to cooperate with the screening measures of Zimbabwean authorities at the ports of entry and issued three consular notices to provide information updates and recommendations for epidemic prevention.
“We have called on the associations of the Chinese community and Chinese business institutions in Zimbabwe to raise the awareness of their members and employees, who have returned to China, asking them to protect themselves from infection.”
On Monday, the Zimbabwean government announced that it was prepared to combat the coronavirus, which has so far killed more than 100 people worldwide.
The government said it had set up special surveillance at ports of entry, particularly the Robert Mugabe International Airport in Harare and the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport in Bulawayo.
A total of 106 people have so far been confirmed dead due to the virus, while the number of reported cases has reached 4 515.
The epicentre of the outbreak has been identified as Wuhan in the province of Hubei.
In Africa, Ethiopia has isolated four people suspected to be infected, while Kenya and Ivory Coast are testing suspected cases.