Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga will not go into self-isolation after spending a fortnight in China and will instead lead the country's battle to stop the spread of the coronavirus, a top government official said yesterday.
Chiwenga arrived back in the country on Friday night after President Emmerson Mnangagwa appointed him to lead a taskforce to tackle the virus. He will be deputised by Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri.
The coronavirus was first detected in China late last year and the Asian country became an epicentre of the deadly disease.
Observers have expressed concern that top government officials that travelled to countries battling the highly infectious disease were not following recommended preventive measures such as a 21-day self-isolation.
Mnangagwa's spokesperson George Charamba said Chiwenga "followed the necessary procedure" upon arrival and would not go into self-isolation.
"He is back," he said. "Self-isolation arises in circumstances where you would have not had the necessary precaution taken.
"There is what they call testing, have you ever heard about testing?
"He has started work and is chairing the task force. He has to literally leave the plane to get into the office. This is an emergency."
Muchinguri-Kashiri, Chiwenga's deputy in the task force, early this month grabbed international headlines after claiming that the coronavirus was a punishment from God on the United States and the West for imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe.
Chiwenga, who has been unwell for some time, went to China two weeks ago for treatment.
Last year, the former army commander spent more than four months in the Asian country recuperating from operations done to save his life after suspected poisoning.
The coronavirus started in Wuhan, China before spreading to the rest of the world where it has wreaked havoc.
More than 28 000 people have so far died from the deadly virus while more than half a million have been infected worldwide.
Zimbabwe so far has seven confirmed cases of infections and one death, that of journalist Zororo Makamba, who was a son of businessman James Makamba.
There has been concern over the lack of seriousness by government in tackling the deadly disease.
Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi went into isolation after travelling to Namibia for the inauguration of that country's leader Hage Geingob.
Last week British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prince Charles of Wales tested positive of coronavirus.