Zimbabwe: Covid-19 - Ex-Health Minister Warns Country At Bigger Risk Without Proper Tests

(File photo).
11 January 2021

Former health minister Henry Madzorera has warned the country was at a higher risk of the Covid-19 menace if authorities did not conduct comprehensive tests on the population.

The MDC Alliance top official said 85 percent of infected persons in the country did not exhibit any Covid-19 symptoms.

This, he said, could aggravate the 'super spreading' of the scourge.

The country's health ministry on 8 January, 2021 presented a cumulative testing data of only 359 065 tests against a population of just over 14 million, showing 243 276 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, 110 869 rapid diagnostic tests (RDT) and 4920 Antigen tests since March 2020.

RDT detects the presence of viral proteins (antigens) expressed by the Covid-19 virus whilst Antigen tests are immunoassays that detect the presence of a specific viral antigen, which implies current viral infection.

PCR tests are used to directly detect the presence of an antigen, rather than the presence of the body's immune response and this type of test has been the most effective, with less false results (negatives or positives) but remains beyond the reach of many.

In a twit on Saturday, Madzorera wrote, "We are in serious trouble. As long as we do nothing about the asymptomatic hosts of Covid-19 during this lockdown, we are wasting both lives and people's livelihoods. Over 85 % of infected people have no symptoms. Let us test and isolate."

Amid sky-rocketing cases of the pandemic, government has been struggling to acquire enough resources such as testing kits for all citizens with the private sector called in to test only those presenting symptoms.

Zimbabwe has so far recorded 21 477 cases, coupled with 507 deaths since the outbreak of the deadly disease last year.

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