A Thai national who sparked panic after “absconding” from an infectious diseases hospital in Harare moments before he was due to be tested for coronavirus has tested negative for the virus, the government said on Wednesday.
Police said Sunday they were looking for the 26-year-old man after he sped off from Wilkins Hospital.
The man returned to the hospital voluntarily on Tuesday morning, allowing doctors to take samples which were quickly tested for COVID-19, the name of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
In an update, the information ministry said: “The traveller from Thailand who was being sought by the authorities for testing, and presented himself on Tuesday, has tested negative to the virus. He has been discharged from the Wilkins Hospital.”
On Sunday, authorities said the man arrived in Zimbabwe ’19 days ago’ and suggested he had only developed a cold and fever just two days before he went to hospital – well outside the coronavirus’ 14-day incubation period.
The ministry of health said Tuesday that “to date, there is no confirmed case of COVID-19 in Zimbabwe.”
“The ministry would once again like to advise the public to exercise good personal hygiene by frequent washing of hands with soap and water and covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. Additionally, all travellers are encouraged to avoid unnecessary travels to and from countries with confirmed COVID-19 cases,” the ministry said.
As of Wednesday morning, the new coronavirus had killed 4,300 people in more than 100 nations and infected 119,235 others since it was detected in China late last year. Some 55,577 people have recovered from an infection, although there remains no known cure for the virus.
Zimbabwe’s southern neighbour South Africa has seven active cases. Other African countries to confirm positive cases are Senegal, Morocco, Algeria, Nigeria, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Togo, DRC and Tunisia.
The only death so far on the continent was recorded in Egypt on March 6. The 60-year-old was a German tourist who refused to be moved to an isolation unit, and saw his condition markedly deteriorate with breathing complications.