Zimbabwe Has State-of-the-Art Labs for Coronavirus - Health Minister

13 February 2020

Health Minister Obadiah Moyo claims Zimbabwe has state-of-the-art laboratory facilities to detect the coronavirus, a highly infectious disease that has killed over a thousand people in China, its epicentre.

Since the outbreak of the virus last month, before it spread to other countries, Zimbabwe has been sending specimen from suspected patients to Kwazulu Natal in South Africa for tests.

However, addressing journalists during a post-Cabinet briefing Wednesday, Moyo said his Ministry recently discovered that their medical laboratories were in perfect condition to test for the coronavirus.

"Regarding our laboratory's state, yes, it is true that previously we used to send our specimens to SA for testing," a highly excited Moyo told the media.

"But this time we did an assessment of our national Microbiology Reference Laboratory and we found it to have adequate, in actual fact, state-of-the-art equipment for Polymerise Chain Reaction (PCR)," Moyo said.

He added that using the laboratory equipment, Zimbabwe was well-prepared for the coronavirus before assuring the nation that the government has set aside 300 test kits for the virus.

"We have 300 test kits adequate for testing and that's quite a large number. So, I can absolutely guarantee you that in as far as our preparedness, don't worry. We are fine," he added.

The minister said there were no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Zimbabwe and urged the public not to panic adding the government was ready to tackle the virus, as the country had enough anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs which were discovered by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to stabilise the virus.

"It was discovered that the anti-retroviral drugs can be used as a possible defence against the Covid19 (coronavirus) and we have plenty of those here. So don't worry, we will be fine," Moyo said.

Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the government had established two coronavirus treatment centres at the Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital in Harare and Thorngrove Infectious Diseases Hospital in Bulawayo.

"Government wants to assure the nation that it is ready to tackle the coronavirus scourge head-on, and there is no need for Zimbabweans to panic, as the situation is under control. The Ministry of Health will continue to give updates on developments regarding the virus," Mutsvangwa said.

"The main treatment centres will be situated at the Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital for the northern part of the country and Thorngrove Infectious Diseases Hospital for the southern region.

"The National Microbiology Reference Laboratory (NMRL) was assessed and found to have good testing capacity and is adequately equipped. Medicines for treatment have been identified locally and will be strategically positioned at the treatment centres," said Mutsvangwa.

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