Zimbabwe: Fourth Coronavirus Death Triggers Contact Hunt

Zimbabwe flag.
23 April 2020

An 82-year-old woman from Mhondoro died from Covid-19 yesterday morning triggering a search for potential contacts since she was in almost total isolation at her homestread.

Covid-19 has been confirmed in more returning Zimbabweans with two of the three new Covid-19 cases reported on Tuesday being detected in the group of Zimbabweans who recently returned from Britain and are currently quarantined at Belvedere Teachers College.

To date, a total of 28 cases of Covid-19 with four deaths have been confirmed in Zimbabwe.

The latest death is the mother of former Minister and Member of Parliament for Mhondoro Mubaira, Mr Sylvester Nguni.

He confirmed that his mother had no history of travel, stayed in a self-contained homestead with just two maids and two herders.

So far as her family are aware, none of her relatives from towns with confirmed cases of Covid-19 have made contact with her since the start of the lockdown.

She died in West End Hospital, where she had been taken when it was assumed she had a resurgence of an earlier non-Covid-19 infection. The positive Covid-19 diagnosis was the result of the routine test under the new system of testing all patients with flu-like symptoms.

The hospital has since stopped all admissions until further notice and patients already in admission are using the upper floors while the casualty department has since been fumigated.

Speaking to journalists yesterday, Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo said contact tracing her death has also begun and that her body was being handled in line with the laid-down procedures for those who have died of Covid-19.

He said the deceased person would be taken direct for burial within the next 24 hours.

"There would be continuous follow up on all the medical staff who have been working with the patient and everyone else who has been in contact with the deceased."

Speaking to The Herald in a telephone interview, Mr Nguni said he received a call from one of the maids at the beginning of the month saying his mother had a bout of flu.

He said then, they arranged medication for her and she seemed to have recovered.

However, he said, on Monday she began having difficulties in breathing

resulting in them going to pick her up and bringing her to Harare for treatment.

"We are all still puzzled as to where she could have got the virus from. Our homestead is more like a self-isolated facility, which is detached from the rest of the community. She stayed there with two maids and two herd boys.

"None of us were in contact with her since the beginning of the first phase of the lockdown up until now," said Mr Nguni.

Meanwhile, deputy director disease prevention and control in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Isaac Phiri has said that all the recent group of returnees now held in quarantine in Belvedere had been tested for Covid-19 and would be tested again after seven days with the last tests set upon their discharge to ensure that they are Covid-19 free as they re-join the society.

He revealed this during a media webinar organised by the United Nations in conjunction with Government and Higher Life Foundation.

Dr Phiri added that Government was working flat out to ensure that all those in quarantine observed social distancing as well as good hygienic practices to curb possible infections.

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