By Rex Mphisa
HEALTH and Child Care minister Obadiah Moyo missed two dates where he was expected to assess the country’s preparedness to handle a possible coronavirus outbreak at the Beitbridge border post.
Moyo did not show up when a World Health Organisation (WHO) top official in Zimbabwe toured the Beitbridge border post to assess the situation.
On Friday and yesterday staff at Beitbridge District Hospital waited the entire day for Moyo, who was expected to arrive from Plumtree where he was on a similar mission.
“We do not have an isolation camp in place and the testing point for suspected cases has not been properly placed in the border post and the risk for contamination is high,” said a hospital official who requested to remain anonymous.
Moyo initially told The Standard in a telephone interview that he was on his way to Beitbridge before handing over his mobile phone to his personal assistant who said the minister would no longer visit the town.
Beitbridge is the country’s busiest border post, which receives the bulk of tourists and businesspeople using surface transport.
On average Beitbridge handles 20 000 travellers per day and at its peak in December it cleared close to 40 000 people in a day during last year’s festive season.
Preparations to tackle a possible coronavirus outbreak in Beitbridge have not matched the amount of human movement at the border post raising concerns among residents in the border town.
Beitbridge district medical officer Linos Samhere said the WHO official’s visit was a “support” tour.
“He came on a visit to support what we are doing her. The minister was not part of the delegation,” Samhere said.
“Their main purpose was to identify what gaps may be existing and help show us how to prepare. It was basically a support visit,”
“They also came to see if screening had started.”
Zimbabwe last week said it had put at least 500 people that recently returned from China on quarantine as a precautionary measure.