Zimbabwe is not concealing any cases of Covid-19 and no country can do so due to the nature of the disease which manifests and spreads rapidly for anyone to hide, World Health Organisation (WHO) country representative Dr Alex Gasasira has said.
He said if Zimbabwe was hiding cases of Covid-19, which is caused by the coronavirus, positive cases would have come out by now.
In an interview yesterday, Dr Gasasira said in fact, health authorities were actually grappling with misinformation pertaining to Covid-19.
“This pandemic can be contained if countries do the right thing,” he said. “Covid-19 by its nature is too rapid to be concealed by any country. By now, if Zimbabwe was concealing any case, they could have come out.
“While we grapple with containing it, the greatest challenge we face is misinformation, which is making it very difficult to contain the virus.”
Dr Gasasira said it was important for people to rely on reliable sources of information, adding that everyone had a role in containing Covid-19. He said it was not just the Government’s responsibility to contain the pandemic, but individuals and other stakeholders had critical roles to play.
The remarks come at a time when the Government stands accused of hiding positive cases of coronavirus by some sections of society.
The social media went ballistic recently when a Thai man, who was a coronavirus suspect, disappeared from Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital, with many people saying he was positive and wanted to intentionally spread the disease.
After a manhunt was launched, the Thai man handed himself in and eventually tested negative.
Dr Gasasira urged African countries to consider minimising social gatherings in the face of increasing cases of Covid-19.
Although Zimbabwe has not yet recorded any confirmed case of coronavirus, neighbouring South Africa has so far confirmed 24 cases.
Fourteen other African countries have confirmed varying numbers of coronavirus.
“Now is the time to minimise social gatherings, Zimbabwe and Africa should act,” said Dr Gasasira. “While there is no need for a lock down for Zimbabwe since it has not recorded any cases, there is need to emphasise on social distancing and reduce gatherings.
“Social distancing is one of the critical measures that a country can use to contain the pandemic. Gatherings should be limited as much as possible and those with symptoms should self-isolate and present at stipulated health facilities.”
Social gatherings include churches, parties, and political gatherings.
Since the first case was recorded in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, the virus has so far claimed nearly 5 000 lives worldwide and infected over 134 000 people.
While official statistics show a decline in cases in China, elsewhere in the world, cases of coronavirus continue to increase with Italy, Iran and South Korea being the hardest hit.
Over 100 countries in the world have been affected by coronavirus, forcing the WHO to declare the disease a pandemic.
As of yesterday, Zimbabwe had not yet reported any positive cases, but had isolated a number of suspected cases and had screened and put 8 700 people under surveillance.
The people passed through Zimbabwe’s different ports of entry, some travelling from the affected countries.