'Dire shortage' of equipment to fight coronavirus in Zimbabwe

Medics accuse the government of failing to put in place measures to protect health practitioners across the country.

Medics in Zimbabwe have warned there is a “dire shortage” of ventilators, oxygen tanks, biohazard suits and N95 face masks for healthcare professionals fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights complained about inadequate screening of people for coronavirus symptoms across the country.

More:

  • Anxiety over rights violations as Zimbabwe enforces lockdown

  • Coronavirus: All you need to know about symptoms and risks

  • Doctor’s Note: Can you really ward off coronavirus?

The doctors have also raised concerns over the scarcity of quarantine and isolation facilities, which they say are only found in the capital Harare and the country’s second-largest city, Bulawayo.

On Sunday, a lawsuit was filed by the doctors in court to compel the government to step up coronavirus protection for public hospitals and healthcare workers.

The application filed at the High Court said the government failed to set in place “measures to ensure that health practitioners across the country, who include nurses, nurse aides and pharmacists among others, are adequately protected”.

A hearing date is yet to be set. 

Last month, doctors and nurses staged a walkout in protest over the lack of protective clothing to care for coronavirus patients.

Zimbabwe has recorded 10 cases of infection, including one death. The country has only one COVID-19 test centre, situated at a government hospital in Harare.

The outbreak of coronavirus has deepened the country’s public healthcare crisis.

Medicines are in short supply and depleted state coffers mean that the government is unable to purchase sufficient supplies for state-run medical facilities. Access to running water is also a major problem.

Doctors and nurses launched a strike last year demanding better wages. Medical practitioners want their salaries indexed in United States dollars to keep pace with inflation as the Zimbabwe dollar continues to lose value.

Doctors only resumed work this January after Zimbabwean telecommunications billionaire Strive Masiyiwa offered to pay the salaries of the country’s 2,000 doctors for three months in the local currency if they returned to their duties.

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'Dire shortage' of equipment to fight coronavirus in Zimbabwe

Medics accuse the government of failing to put in place measures to protect health practitioners across the country.

Medics in Zimbabwe have warned there is a “dire shortage” of ventilators, oxygen tanks, biohazard suits and N95 face masks for healthcare professionals fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights complained about inadequate screening of people for coronavirus symptoms across the country.

More:

  • Anxiety over rights violations as Zimbabwe enforces lockdown

  • Coronavirus: All you need to know about symptoms and risks

  • Doctor’s Note: Can you really ward off coronavirus?

The doctors have also raised concerns over the scarcity of quarantine and isolation facilities, which they say are only found in the capital Harare and the country’s second-largest city, Bulawayo.

On Sunday, a lawsuit was filed by the doctors in court to compel the government to step up coronavirus protection for public hospitals and healthcare workers.

The application filed at the High Court said the government failed to set in place “measures to ensure that health practitioners across the country, who include nurses, nurse aides and pharmacists among others, are adequately protected”.

A hearing date is yet to be set. 

Last month, doctors and nurses staged a walkout in protest over the lack of protective clothing to care for coronavirus patients.

Zimbabwe has recorded 10 cases of infection, including one death. The country has only one COVID-19 test centre, situated at a government hospital in Harare.

The outbreak of coronavirus has deepened the country’s public healthcare crisis.

Medicines are in short supply and depleted state coffers mean that the government is unable to purchase sufficient supplies for state-run medical facilities. Access to running water is also a major problem.

Doctors and nurses launched a strike last year demanding better wages. Medical practitioners want their salaries indexed in United States dollars to keep pace with inflation as the Zimbabwe dollar continues to lose value.

Doctors only resumed work this January after Zimbabwean telecommunications billionaire Strive Masiyiwa offered to pay the salaries of the country’s 2,000 doctors for three months in the local currency if they returned to their duties.

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Zimbabwe locks down to fight coronavirus amid economic crisis

HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe began a 21-day nationwide lockdown on Monday, following South Africa in implementing some of the world’s toughest anti-coronavirus measures likely to hurt an economy already suffering hyperinflation and food shortages.

But unlike neighboring South Africa, where many citizens defied calls to stay indoors, with some clashing with security forces at the weekend, Zimbabweans mostly stayed home.

Zimbabwe has recorded just seven coronavirus cases and one death, but the government announced a range of financial measures to help fight the epidemic and said it was unfreezing 4,000 posts in the health sector.

Central Harare’s streets were deserted. Banks, government offices and businesses were shut. Zimbabwean police, who have a reputation for brutality, manned checkpoints on highways into the capital and questioned the few motorists.

In the poor township of Mbare, vegetable markets and the inter-city bus rank were closed and rows of wooden stalls used by vegetable vendors abandoned.

Nearby, six men sat outside their flat drinking gin. Fox Dhalu, a 36-year-old father of three, complained that some shops had hiked prices over the weekend.

“The government gave us short notice to prepare for this coronavirus lockdown. We are very angry about this,” he said.

A few blocks from the police station in the middle class suburb of Mabelreign, 73-year-old grandmother Angela Nerwande sat on an improvised stool selling vegetables on her stall.

“What will my grandchildren eat if I stay at home? “At my age I am not afraid of dying. If they want to arrest me let them come,” she said.

In a statement, Zimbabwe Police Spokesman Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said: “The law is very clear, those who don’t comply will be arrested and prosecuted.”

WATER CANNON

In South Africa, many of the most vulnerable people have struggled to maintain the lockdown, and people in poor, overcrowded townships have continued to mingle, sometimes prompting security forces to use water cannon to break them up.

State broadcaster SABC aired videos of soldiers humiliating people, making them do squats and pulling one along the ground with a wire. Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told the channel they should not use excessive force.

“We want our security services to partner with our communities to stop the spread of coronavirus,” she said.

South African police said a policeman and security guard had shot a man dead during the coronavirus lockdown.

In a bid to ease the impact, South Africa relaxed restrictions on taxis during rush hour and made early social security payments to the elderly.

“We are scared of being sick but there is nothing we can do, what are we going to eat? We are here to get paid so we can buy food,” said Maryjane Jinethi, 66, as she queued in Soweto for her check.

South Africa has 1,280 cases, and two deaths, as of Monday compared with an African total of 4,894.

In Nigeria’s capital Abuja and the main city Lagos, those who could afford to stock up queued at shops ahead of a 14-day lockdown starting at 11 p.m. (2200 GMT). [nL8N2BN5MC]

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