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SENATE HANSARD 10 MARCH 2020 29 29
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Tuesday, 10th March, 2020.
The Senate met at Half-past Two O’clock p.m.
(THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE in the Chair)
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR MASHONALAND EAST
HON. SEN. MUNZVERENGWI): I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 to 5 be stood over, until the rest of the Orders of the Day have been disposed of.
Motion put and agreed to.
*HON. SEN. SHOKO: On a point of order Madam President. I have noticed that on several occasions, Hon. Ministers leave the House soon after Questions without Notice and they do not wait to respond to Questions with Notice. Through you Madam President, can you urge them to remain seated after Questions without Notice so that they can attend to Questions with Notice so that our Order Paper is not clogged with deferred questions? I thank you.
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Thank you Hon.
PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH: DEBATE ON ADDRESS
Sixth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion in reply to the Presidential Speech.
Question again proposed.
^^HON. SEN. MOHADI: Madam President, I want to thank you
for giving me this opportunity to contribute to the Presidential Speech. I also want to thank the mover of this motion, Hon. Sen. T. Muzenda.
Most of what was said by the President has been debated. I will only dwell on the Command Livestock Programme where most people in Matabeleland region lost a lot of livestock; cattle, goats and sheep due to drought. More than 10 000 cattle were recorded as having died, of which those which died in the forest were not recorded. I would like to thank the Deputy Minister of Agriculture who responded to the plea and promised that the programme would be revitalised in due course.
Madam President, the issue of small grains was raised by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, in his Speech, of which that it would be of much help to the people of Matabeleland region because we receive very little rainfall. The President also talked about climate change which has befallen the country, saying that as a nation, we should be prepared to live with it. The water table has been affected and the boreholes are drying up as well and there is great need of water for both people and livestock. I would like to thank the President who promised that more boreholes would be drilled countrywide but putting more emphasis on those areas which lie in Region Five.
Madam President, the President also talked about the drought that has affected the country and promised that no one will die of hunger.
Thanks Lord no one has died of hunger to date. He also promised that Government would make plans to import maize so that every hungry person gets food. With these few words, I thank you.
HON. SEN. MUZENDA: Thank you Madam President. I move
that the debate do now adjourn.
HON. SEN. MOHADI: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Wednesday, 11th March, 2020.
RESTORATION OF THE FIRST REPORT OF THE THEMATIC
COMMITTEE ON INDIGENISATION AND EMPOWERMENT ON
THE IMPLEMENTATION OF EMPOWERMENT PROGRAMMES IN THE MINING SECTOR ON THE ORDER PAPER
HON. SEN. MBOHWA: Madam President, I move that the First Report of the Thematic Committee on Indigenisation and Empowerment on the Implementation of Empowerment Programmes in the Mining Sector which was superseded by the prorogation of the First Session of the Ninth Parliament be restored on the Order Paper.
HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI: I second.
HON. SEN. MBOHWA: The reason why we wish the motion to
be restored on the Order Paper is that it a very important topic and a thorny issue especially to people who come from areas where these mining activities are taking place. The motion was only debated by three Senators and let me take this opportunity to thank them for debating this motion. It is my request and wish that you allow this report to be restored on the Order Paper because I think all the chiefs have an interest to debate this motion as the custodians of our land and they are getting nothing.
*HON. SEN. CHIRONGOMA: Thank you Madam President. I
want to support the motion which is before us. The motion should be put back on the Order Paper because we did not adequately debate it.
*HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: Thank you Madam President. I
have stood up in support of Hon. Sen. Mbohwa for the motion to be brought back on the Order Paper because the motion touches on our communities. Therefore for us to debate for a short time, we would not have done justice to it as the Senate representing the communities. So we plead with you that the motion be restored on the Order Paper so it is debated adequately to enable us to come up with resolutions that represent our constituencies as a way to fulfil our mandate as Parliament. Thank you Madam President.
*HON. SEN. FEMAI: Thank you Madam President. I also stand up in support of the motion to be restored on the Order Paper because as a Committee, we were not yet through with our public hearings in order to come up with good recommendations which help the country. I am in support that the motion be restored on the Order Paper and debated adequately. It will also give us ample time to do our visits so that we come up with something tangible.
Motion put and agreed to.
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Order, before we go
further, the Clerks-at-the-Table are requesting that when Hon. Senators are debating, you raise up your voices so that they hear, because the microphones are not working well. They are even asking that if you cannot speak louder, you can come closer so that they know how to take their notes. Thank you.
REPORT OF THE WOMEN POLITICAL LEADERS GLOBAL
FORUM HELD IN ICELAND
HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: I rise to move the motion standing
in my name that this House takes note of the Report of the Women Political Leaders Global Forum held in Reykjavik, Iceland from 18th to 20th November, 2019.
HON. SEN. M. R. DUBE: I second.
HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: Thank you Madam President. Hon.
Mable Chinomona, the President of the Senate, led a parliamentary delegation to the Women Political Leaders Global Forum held in
Reikjavik, Iceland from 18th to 20th November, 2019. The rest of the delegation comprised the following members and officers of Parliament.
Hon. Sen. Angeline K. Tongogara, Hon. Sen. Mildred Dube, Mr. C. K.
Guvi – Director in the President of the Senate office, Mr. Evans Gorogodo- External Relations Officer and Mr. Simon Chifamba, Security Aide to the President of the Senate.
Official Opening Ceremony:
Ms. Katrin Jacobsdottir Prime Minister of Iceland officially opened the forum. In her remarks she highlighted that the Forum was made for women political leaders to share ideas on and thoughts on making the world a better place...
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Order, if I may ask to
interrupt the Hon. Senator before she goes any further. We have asked for the Minister of Health and Child Care to come and give us a ministerial statement pertaining to the Coronavirus. He even said if he cannot do it soonest, he may come on Thursday but we thought we should have it now. –[HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear]-
THE STATE OF AFFAIRS WITH REGARDS TO THE
THE MINISTER OF HEALTH AND CHILD CARE (HON.
- O. MOYO): Thank you Madam President. I am glad to have this opportunity to be able to give the Ministerial Statement on the state of affairs regarding the Coronavirus outbreak here in Zimbabwe. As you are aware, this is a problem which started in China and for some time people thought maybe it might not come to Africa, but it is right here next door to us in South Africa now.
Madam President, I hereby present before this august House the state of affairs with regards to the Coronavirus outbreak. This outbreak has become a worldwide phenomenon and I just want to give you the background on the evolution of this outbreak. We say NOVEL because it is a new virus which has now been renamed COVID-19. This started on the 30th December, 2019 as a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown origin reported to the China National Health Commission on the 7th of January, 2020.
The source of the outbreak was traced in Huanan Sea Food
Wholesale outside a market which was then closed on the 1st January, 2020. COVID 19 is a respiratory infection caused by Coronaviruses. If I may hasten to add that there are thousands of Coronaviruses and this new one was therefore named COVID-19. They all cause illnesses ranging from a common cold to severe disease such as the middle eastern respiratory syndrome and also what was generally referred to as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
The outbreak in China is from a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. Coronaviruses are transmitted between animals to humans and from humans to humans. It is what we call a zoonistic disease. The symptoms of the COVID-19 include fever, chest pain, chills, and difficulty in breathing, headache, sore throat, cough, pneumonia and even kidney failure. I am not trying to frighten anyone because I can see everyone is now feeling their parts but this is the reality.
The Coronavirus infection is highly infectious and can be spread through aerosols or through the coughing, sneezing and close personal contact with an infected person such as touching or shaking hands, touching an infected object like a door knob then touching your mouth or face without washing your face can also spread the virus. Faecal contamination is also one of the roots of spreading the virus although it is very rare.
In order to reduce the risk of infection with the new Coronavirus, it is important to avoid close contact with anyone with a cold or flu like symptoms. Prevent unprotected contact with farm or wild animals, cover the nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue paper or flex elbow, wash hands with soap and running water after sneezing and coughing and when caring for the sick and after toilet use, before eating food, during and after preparing food, continuous washing of hands because hands are dirty and after handling animals and animal waste – it can be worse.
As of today, there are no cases of coronavirus in Zimbabwe. The majority of cases, which is 80 904 are all from China but cases have also now been reported in 94 countries. South Africa has recorded a total of seven cases so far. Around 19th February, we had 3 773 people who had passed through our ports of entry and they had been placed on self quarantine and of these, 2 000 were Zimbabwean students who were studying in China. They were on self quarantine from that period where we were carrying out surveillances to ensure that we detect any symptoms at an early stage.
I can also advise, Madam President, that we had a female Zimbabwean traveler who we identified through our surveillance system at Robert Mugabe International Airport having noted that she had been to the epicenter of this coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan. In order to protect our nation, the candidate had to be immediately isolated. To me this shows that our system is working well and it is a sign of good preparedness.
As we indicated before, our laboratory testing for CORVID-19 is also fully functional and our scientists have managed to test the travelers and confirmed them to be negative for coronavirus as authorities in China had also confirmed about this particular lady. So we can guarantee the nation that there is no coronavirus in Zimbabwe. We will however, as per protocol, continue to monitor all the candidates for up to 21 days. Other countries say 14 days but we decided to go seven days more.
Our protocol continues to be stringent and protective of our nation and to further strengthen our surveillance, a scientific approach requiring all travelers coming from China and the other affected countries are to be screened and quarantined for that period in China and if they are found to be safe, that is when they can be able to travel to Zimbabwe. When they get to Zimbabwe, they will be subjected to a further 21 days quarantine.
We would like to urge the public to remain vigilant against this disease. It is important that people contact the nearest health centre provider for the correct information on COVID-19. We have seen a lot of social media misinformation. That is why I also felt that it was very important that we come here and update the Senate. We want to say that all those with plans to visit China are in the mean time being discouraged to postpone the visits unless absolutely necessary and all the other countries which are affected, we are recommending that just stay at home and be safe and we keep Zimbabwe clean.
Let us have a look at the response to the coronavirus outbreak by Zimbabwe. The national response, Madam President, mechanism for surveillance and early detection of any possible cases was activated on 24th January, 2020 and by mid February, the capacity building of all identified thematic areas to deal effectively with any cases had been conducted.
On 22nd January, we managed to visit Robert Mugabe International
Airport to assess the airport and port health state of preparedness. On
the same day, we also held a press conference to discuss the Ministry’s preparedness for the COVID-19 and in a meeting attended by the airport management, all key airport staff and media were available. We also held bilateral discussions, Madam President, with the Chinese Embassy. We further had a tour of Victoria Falls International Airport and also the ground port at Victoria Falls to assess their surveillance system, the quarantine and isolation facility and the district of Hwange state of preparedness. We found the airport at Victoria Falls as the best facility in terms of isolation and quarantine facilities.
on 31 January the National Rapid Response Team, through the Emergency Operations Centre completed a day long coronavirus readiness check list for Zimbabwe to see what is in place, what the gaps are, what can be done and what has to be done. The team came up with a budgeted plan for Bulawayo’s Joshua, Nqabuko Airport, Beitbridge Ground Port and Plumtree Ground Port. We also managed to visit all these to assess their readiness to detect and manage any possible cases of COVID-19. We shall continue to do the visits, Madam President, and I have personally made the assessments and I have been to all the border areas. This coming week, I will be visiting the northern borders to make sure that we have thorough foolproof border protection.
We are also guided by the WHO risk assessment and the current risk assessment from WHO indicates that China’s level of alertness is now very high and the rest of the world has also become very high. In fact in China, the levels are now going down while the rest of the world it is now going up. There is a very rapid spread of the virus worldwide besides in China. The number of deaths in China have gone down and so has the number of cases. So, it becomes very relevant that we sensitse all our professionals. We have been in touch with our professionals, the College of Primary Care Physicians, the Zimbabwe Medical Association and there shall be ongoing education and training of our doctors, nurses, physicians. Case management training is very essential so that by the time any of our doctors interact with a patient who is suspected of coronavirus, they can be able to manage them accordingly.
We held training on 17th February at Wilkins Infectious Disease Hospital where we trained a total of 70 health care workers and this is going to continue. We are going to be inviting and bringing forward more trainers and the floor staff were shown how it is done at Wilkins Hospital – how to handle a patient who comes in with infection and how they have to look after the cases, the isolation facility, the quality and how it should be set up.
This cascading of training to establish isolation facilities is continuous right through the country. So Madam President, we have brought people for training so that they can go back to their institutions and copy what is being done at the main isolating hospital. We have asked each and every hospital to identify an isolation room or rooms where they can be able to isolate a patient if the virus comes to Zimbabwe and it happens to be found at Bindura Provincial Hospital; I am just saying this as an example, not that there is anything in Bindura – [Laughter.] – we want each and every hospital to have an isolation room so that if at all they have a case or a suspected case, they can be able to handle it then.
The Train the trainers were drawn from Harare, Kadoma, Mutare and most of the cities of Zimbabwe; this also includes the private health care institutions, private hospitals, private laboritories and this training will be continuous with the support of the National Rapid Response team and also from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and FSF.
Madam President, I would like to indicate that a budget was prepared and submitted to the Ministry of Finance, which stands at US$5.2 million. Part of it has been availed to us and it is coming in franchise. We have reconvened a national task force on epidemic prone diseases with the Inter-agency Coordination Committee today as a forum to the one that was convened on the 24th of January, 2020. I would like to indicate that the Chinese Embassy has indicated its willingness to assist us in the sprucing up of our isolation treatment unit at Wilkins Hospital and all other isolation rooms. Our port health staff will share information with the Chinese to facilitate follow after and monitoring.
The Embassy will facilitate translation services and ports of entry and isolation for ease of communication. The Embassy will also show locations where Chinese people are in Zimbabwe so that we can do more follow ups of the Chinese and also the Zimbabwean students who have come from China.
The Zimbabwean students in China are all safe and well taken care of their day to day needs, including facilitating communication, food and lessons and the Embassy is in contact with our Zimbabwean students. The Chinese borders are not closed but they are discouraging their citizens from travelling to Zimbabwe. In terms of awareness, this is a continuous process and we have prepared for printing information, education and communication materials for radio, television and other media blitz and job ads to assist medical and laboratory staff. I am sure we have all seen on television, WhatsApp and SMS messages which are being relayed regarding personal hygiene.
One other issue which we have taken care of Madam President is that of protecting our staff. All those who are working at the borders, we have ensured that they are well protected. We are ensuring that all our staff is well trained in terms of protection. We do not want to end up with our own personnel being infected by the COVID-19. We have job ads, strategies, supplies of recommended medicines which are prepositioned. We have personal protective equipment, test kits and other requirements for managing any of the cases. They must be adequately protected so that they render the services properly.
We have constantly engaged the media in order to keep the population of Zimbabwe updated as the outbreak of the virus has been evolving. As a new disease, there is quite a lot that we now know but there is still a lot that we do not know. My team of experts will continue getting the updates from WHO, the African Union Centre for Disease Control and continue passing on information using the various communication platforms. I want to indicate to the Hon. Senators here present that, please be worry be aware of the fact that there is no vaccine yet for the control of COVID 19. What is available at the moment is as a result of some tests which were carried out by the Chinese and also
one of the nations in Asia where they found that the use of the current anti-retroviral, the ARVs that we use, one specific one called kaletra, which is a combination antiretroviral which has what is called lopinavir and ritonavir and also in combination, if used, appear to work; together with another booster called anti- interferon, alpha interferon or an alpha interferon that can be able to reduce or stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The Israelis have also come up with some form of medication including ‘quick-fix’ vaccine which is still to be tried. So, that is the only form of treatment which is there at the moment. There are quite a number of cases which have been sailed from this particular combination treatment. We have also read about the use of chloroquine; normally chloroquine is used for the treatment of malaria. Everyone has been trying anything possible and there was a little bit of success in these. These are all trial and error mechanisms. At the moment, I also want to indicate that we are lucky that we have that kaletra available here in Zimbabwe and we made sure that it is distributed to all our treatment centres.
What we are building on is the availability of the booster, the alpha interferon and we should be having it very soon. However, on the kaletra, we can be able to manage the patients with ease when the disease comes. At the same time, as you saw, we managed to test the candidate from Wilkins because we have already acquired the test kits and we have that equipment. We are very lucky there in that we have five sets, five platforms and what was required on all those was just the test kits to use. We have very high calibre test equipment from high calibre manufacturers, high standard equipment for the testing of this virus. So, there we are covered and I can assure you that this is so. The only problem is that the type of testing platform that we have takes a bit longer. At the moment, it takes at least 5 hours before we get the results but it is better than the previous platforms which would take at least one week. We are waiting for the arrival of the rapid test kits which takes about 15 minutes just like when we are testing for HIV/AIDS which takes about 15 minutes. Still, with those, if it tests positive, we still have to go back to the five hour one because it is what we call the definitive test scheme. If someone comes negative on the rapid test, we do not proceed to the confirmatory; it is only when they are positive on the rapid test.
To date, once again, I want to emphasise and re-emphasise, in fact,
I put it in capitals, to date, there is no confirmed case of COVID-19 in Zimbabwe. As at the 8th of March, the 105 cases of COVID-19 cases were confirmed worldwide and 3584 deaths were recorded and this is reported from 86 countries and the majority is still from China. The number of African countries who have reported confirmed cases have also increased to eight (8). I was in Tanzania the day before yesterday. I just came back from the airport. I came here straight from the airport. I do not have corona. I think I was quite careful. I was tested and I did not alarm the machine, I am still safe. It is not like in Iran where the
Vice President is positive with COVID 19. The Deputy Minister of
Health and not the Minister of Health is also positive.
This is a reality and it is happening. There are also other senior –
[HON. SENATORS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Order, can we please
have one meeting because those behind you want to listen to the Minister.
HON. DR. O. MOYO: There are so many other senior officials in other countries as well who have acquired this condition. It is a very serious issue. For Zimbabwe, I will have to make that statement at the end as to how I really see it. In terms of the country’s situation again, our preparedness measures have been stepped up through heightened surveillance systems at national, provincial and district level with special focus on all ports of entry throughout the country ever since we had the outbreak in South Africa.
We have daily written updates which are being provided to the nation from the office of our Secretary for Health. We realise that a lot of people were ending up without any information and not being fully informed. So I instructed that the Secretary for Health gives out a statement every day. We have to fight rumour mongering.
Misinformation is the biggest problem. I would like to say that we now have our column where this statement is issued on a daily basis so that you will be able to counter any false information.
I was surprised yesterday Madam President, to read that I had been at a press conference here in Harare with relatives of an absconded patient yet I was in Tanzania. That is the level of misinformation which is really bad. It is just to smear and cause alarm and despondency. There are people who are waiting for the virus to appear in Zimbabwe sooner, which is a very sad state of affairs. We all say we do not want to have the virus here in Zimbabwe. We are fighting by all means to make sure that we do not get the virus in Zimbabwe yet other people are actually saying it is too late; it should have arrived a long time ago. These are very mischievous people and I do not think it is being done on a political basis. It is being done by people who are just mischievous.
Training of our health workers continues. Today we have quite a lot of doctors who are being trained in Kadoma on case management.
As I came here I was actually speaking to them. We now have dedicated isolation facilities. We want to improve the ones in Bulawayo. As we go on a province by province basis, we have received further protective kits from the British. They gave us £100 000 worth of protective kits – masks, goggles and all that. At the same time, they are spending £1 700 000 for the creation of a National Response Centre which is situated at Parirenyatwa Hospital – the old central hospital. Once it is completed, it should be in a week or two; we will have an opening ceremony and we will invite all the Members of Senate who can attend that function.
The Covid-19 Preparedness Response Plan is there. We shall make it available – it is being finalised; just a few touches here and there. We are being assisted by UNICEF and WHO. So we will make that available.
We are also giving travel guidelines to those who are going out discouraging them from going out especially to countries which are affected and at the same time we have been proactive and advising our embassies to generally advise people to go and see their doctors before they travel. We are saying just be checked by your doctors. We are not forcing anyone but giving advice. It is not an absolute requirement. To those who are outside who want to come to Zimbabwe to just go and be checked to see if they do not have any symptoms or to see if their systems are in order rather than them coming here, they get to the airport, they are sick and then we have to quarantine and isolate them.
Let me just give you some figures Madam President of the numbers of travellers who are arriving from other countries with confirmed cases of Covid-19 as at 08 March 2020.
|Port of Entry||Total No. of Travellers||Travellers under Surveillance|
|Robert Mugabe Airport||5 585||16|
|Victoria Falls Airport||937||54|
|Victoria Falls Road||272||5|
|J.M. Nkomo Airport||428||81|
|Beit Bridge Road||120||35|
We have put systems in place at all these border posts. We have had to utilise some of the facilities which were being used by Immigration. They are now being used by Port Health. The cages which are there are now Port Health cages. In comparison to what was also being circulated on the social media where there was a small desk with torn papers and scribbling about Coronavirus; it is all fake information. We have very nice cages where the Port Health authorities are behind the cages and they take the temperatures from within.
Before that, there would have been another Immigration Officer who would have verified where the traveller is coming from. They have got all the details and they put them down on paper. There are a lot of people who come through Beitbridge – 13 000 a month and six million a year. It gets worse during holiday times. We have had to re-enforce and make sure that all the Immigration Officers at the ports work together with the Port Health authorities. It cannot be left to the Port Health authorities only. Likewise, the Police and Defence Forces are all there and working as one team at our borders.
There is a case of a Mutare woman who returned from China more than a month ago on 24th January. She presented to her General Medical Practitioner and was then referred to Wilkins Hospital on 6th March for COVID-19 tests but unfortunately, she died before she got to the hospital. So I wanted to clarify that to you so that you do not follow the information that may be coming through the social media Madam President. She actually died before getting to the hospital and then because she was dead, they had to move the body into an isolation room and then go through the process of taking samples, send the samples for testing, wait for five hours before the results. We were only called at 2230 hrs to be told of what the result was. So the result came back negative.
The latest case referred to Wilkins Infections Disease Hospital is that of a suspected case of a 26 year old man who came into Zimbabwe on 14th February from Thailand. He presented at Wilkins Hospital on 8th March and this was more than 14 days after arriving from Thailand, as a referral from a private institution where he had reported of a two day history of coughing mainly at night, fever and sneezing. On admission to Wilkins, he did not meet the WHO case definition of a suspected case but was still earmarked for a COVID-19 test due to intensified surveillance that the country has adopted. So we still wanted to make sure to test him especially since he had been referred to our Wilkins Hospital.
The patient was therefore screened. What happens is that once a patient arrives, they come through the back and are placed in an isolation room. The team goes through the front where they then gown-up and the gowning up process takes at least 45 minutes. You have to put on the long gloves, the over shoes, the space suit, the smaller gloves, the face mask, goggles, then a balaclava and then you wear gumboots. So it is a process and they have to be protected, otherwise you will just go and touch and that is it – you are done and you go and spread all over.
Then the ungowning process is also equally tedious because there has to be someone with a spray gun – spraying you as you remove all protective clothing. You get sprayed at every stage and you have to use a special tool for removing the gumboots. Once you are in uniform you get sprayed then you go and change before you go to your original position where you would have started gowning up in the scrubs. So while they were busy preparing to go to meet the patient, the patient’s relatives came through that same door, took the patient and ran away with him – they drove out. The people at the gates just thought that it was the original relatives who were accompanying the patient. They could not see the patient because the patient was sitting in the back seat so they could see him.
The next thing is they drove out and went. So we alerted the police and the environmental health officers. They are still seized with searching for this absconded patient. So we are looking for that patient and there is so much information that is coming through. The addresses where the patient normally is supposed to reside was visited, unfortunately they were not there. So we are looking for that absconded patient but I just wanted to give you a detail on the fact that they had arrived at least more than 14 days before – just a relief but we still want that patient to come back. We want to test that patient. I saw some messages on WhatsApp that are coming through saying that someone fitting that description might have been seen at Chisipite and immediately I asked my environmental health officers to follow up with the police. So it remains a suspect – it is not confirmed.
I also want to let you know that we had a meeting with the captains of the tourism industry on 5th March which I chaired. We advised them of the dangers of the Coronavirus – I gave them a typical example that if for a example they were to have a patient or a traveler arriving at their hotel and they suddenly get all those symptoms; it would be a drastic issue for them because if that person turns out to be positive it means we have to close up the hotel immediately and everyone residing at the hotel has to be quarantined. Initially they were saying, no we think it is okay; as soon as we informed them about the consequences they then realised that it was a serious issue. So we do not want this COVID-19 to be spread because it spreads like wildfire.
The meeting turned out to be a very good meeting and they are collaborating with us very well. We also had meetings with the various airports. We have said that we want to have the Airport Compliance Committees to be well established and also the Ground Port Compliance Committees to be well established. People must meet on a continuous basis, review on daily basis what is happening at the airports and the evacuation systems must be ready. Like now, we have an ambulance stationed at the airport just before the planes coming from the affected areas or out of Zimbabwe arrive; we have ambulances waiting there until everyone is cleared so that if there is anyone who is identified as having a fever they are immediately whisked downstairs and taken into the ambulance straight to the isolation centre.
I have just come from Tanzania where a meeting of the Ministers of Health was held as an emergency. I will just quickly go through the communiqué that came out after the meeting. The main purpose of the meeting was to share existing knowledge and information on COVID-19 outbreak which has had a devastating global impact since its outbreak in December 2019 and to agree on how to harmonise and coordinate the preparedness and response to COVID-19 in the SADC region. There was a presentation from WHO and also from the People’s Republic of China. The meeting also noted the status of the level of preparedness of the member States in addressing COVID-19 and urged member States to put in place national preparedness and response plane as well as contingency and emergency funds to address gaps in prevention, impact mitigation and other investigations. It also urged member States to institute and validate assessment on readiness on a continuous basis working together with the International Cooperating Parties.
The meeting directed and revived committees to work in partnership with disaster management on a regional basis ; to work with other sectors, i.e. immigration, tourism, finance, foreign affairs, trade and Africa CDC and other developing partners, and encouraged to work with the private sector for the purposes of mobilisation of funds and civil societies.
The meeting recommended a temporary suspension of SADC regional face-to-face meetings and encouraged utilisation of Modern Technology such as video-conferences, Webinars and skype calls for holding such meetings until such time when the situation has been contained. The suspension is to be monitored by the Chairperson of Council supported by the SADC Secretariat. I know you are all worried because I went to Tanzania. So the only way to mitigate this is for everyone to be in their respective countries then we will carry on with the task.
The meeting agreed that SADC Member States in collaboration with WHO, will continuously provide training and support to enhance readiness and preparedness of SADC Member States.
The meeting urged Member States to encourage preventive measures such as hand washing and sanitization of surfaces, in workplaces and domestic settings as well as utilising the SADC Pooled Procurement Services through Medical Stores Department (MSD) for the procurement of medicines and supplies.
The meeting urged SADC Member States to mobilise domestic resources and invest in public health systems to ensure resilience and health security.
The meeting further urged Member States to align country plans to continental strategies and utilise the existing technical structures such as the Africa CDC Regional Coordinating Team (RCT) in Zambia and WHO.
The Meeting commended China, WHO and Africa CDC for the efforts being made towards addressing the COVID-19, and pledged
SADC’s continued solidarity towards China and other countries affected by the virus.
The People’s Republic of China extended gratitude to SADC
Member States and the SADC Secretariat for standing in solidarity with China during this difficult time and assured the meeting that all SADC citizens, including students are being taken care of in terms of prevention and monitoring and no one has been infected. With regards to football, it is also being finalised. Crowds are a danger so I leave that one open.
Madam President, with regards to COVID-19, in summary, while we have been saying if covid-19 comes to Zimbabwe now with South Africa having acquired and is now affected, we now have to say when
Covid-19 comes to Zimbabwe are we ready for it? That is the question.
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Thank you Hon.
Minister for that explanation. I think Hon. Senators may need some clarifications from the Minister.
HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: I would like to thank the Hon. Minister for the comprehensive report. I must say with all due respect, people have got a tendency to say Ministers lie but I can tell you that I am still within the field and I communicate day-in day-out with health workers. So what I am talking about is from a very informed position and not speculative. The Minister was very intensive and I want to congratulate him for that. -[HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear]- I am sure if we are to continue with this trajectory we will not find ourselves in a situation like we had with HIV/Aids where one of our Ministers was so protective until we were wiped as a country and became a world epicentre of this. So, to the Hon. Minister I say thank you very much. I think your administration is so far so good if I am allowed to say that Madam President.
My comment is first on the preparedness that the Minister talked about. Preparedness of this pandemic is at various levels. At the moment I think we are doing well on the preventive, but we are not yet there. One area I would want the Minister to comment on is in the event that we get COVID-19 in Zimbabwe, how prepared are we in terms of the QSD aspect, because as we speak right now if you look from what is happening – about 5% of those who are infected with COVID-19 will need intensive care, which is hospital admission. Our centre at Wilkins does not have that facility, so in the event that we have a case, where is that going to be? Our central hospital at Parerenyatwa ICU for the whole of this region has got four working ventilators and those people will need life support. I think when we talk about prevention and readiness, we have to be comprehensive but I do not think we are ready. We are only ready in terms of saying it has not come but when it comes it will be a disaster. The health workers will run away and that is actually what they are saying. Why, because they do not have the tools of trade. If Mavetera is to get sick today and he needs respiratory support, which hospital is he going to be admitted in and be managed?
That will be very important.
I think he also touched on a very important issue when he said COVID-19 is like a hygiene disease. The basics – washing, disposal of waste etcetera, I am sure the Hon. Minister is aware that most of our health facilities at the moment have problems with water supply. What is the Minister doing to liaise with the authorities which provide those basic needs so that the health workers are very much prepared to deal with that? We cannot be ready for COVID-19 without adequate water supply and sanitation disposals. Even for those following international news, in one of the hotels in China, transmission was through the chimney because there was poor waste disposal. How many of our centres use the toilet and there is no water to dispose of waste. It will end up infecting everyone, so I think those are issues which need a ministerial matter of urgency. Mr. President, the other issue is about training of health workers. Are we training trainers? I will give an example which happened. One of the cases referred to by the Minister came to a private hospital with a doctor keeping that patient and the staff at the hospital ran away. That is a sign of no preparedness. What I am trying to say to the Minister is when we have these trainings, let us not focus on public institutions because when those people who are likely to bring COVID-19 are the so called rich, their port of entry is going to be a private hospital on some emergency. Those are the entry points which we should guard jealously.
The other point is our tool for screening at the airport. We are basically asking three questions but as we all know now, every aspect on area on part of the world is an epicenter and I think we need to improve on our screening tools. Our screening tool which we are using at our port of entry is not sensitive enough to pick all the potential people who are going to bring in infection into Zimbabwe. I am sure our border...
THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Order, with
all due respect Hon. Senator, desist from debating, say what you want to ask for clarification.
HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: Thank you Mr. President. The
other issue that I was talking about is screening at the borders. I think if anything also it may not be the Ministry of Health, but on the immigration side, they are overwhelmed. Some of the tools which are needed in other areas may not be applicable because they will end up with massive congestion, I think there is need for a ministerial interaction to make sure that we facilitate an efficient way of making sure that we are ready.
My last contribution, I want to find out from the Minister, our test which we are performing here in Zimbabwe, I understand it is a test for Coronavirus, not the one which is specific for COVID-19. So, what is the sensitivity of that test we are using and those approved negative, were they subjected to PCR? Do we have facility for PCR in Zimbabwe because we may have false negatives, especially the cases which were discussed - some of them clinically, anyone to be said this is COVID. Then lastly, the Minister may choose or may choose not to respond to this last comment on this question. I think it is important that it is no longer a secret the epicenter COVID is China. These citizens or people who are unlabelled, what is the origin, what is the nationality of those people who disappear? I know the nationality and why am I saying this Mr. president, it to make sure that as a nation, when we have got visitors from those countries we need to be very strict or ban the visitors from that country, because if they do not observe the laws of the country, they end up in exposing the whole population into a serious health crisis. I think it will be unfair. Thank you Mr. President.
THE MINISTER OF HEALTH AND CHILD CARE (HON.
- O. MOYO): Thank you very much Hon. President Sir. I will start with the nationality of absconders – they are from Thailand, they are Thais. You asked about the type of testing that we are carrying out. We are definitely testing directly for COVID-19 not for SARS COV-2. We are testing directly for COVID-19. Those are the kits that we have. The extraction process is carried out using PCR and also the amplification using the same technique. So, we are using the polymerase chain reaction technique for our testing. What I was saying is that in future, we want to be able to get the rapid tests so that we do not go for the definitive. What I describe is the definitive tests, the gold standard for testing for these viruses.
So we want to go to the primary rapid testing 15 minutes. If it is positive, we go to the definitive gold standard the PCR. If it is negative, we proceed. At the same time, we also want to advise the House that because we are starting testing of this virus in Zimbabwe, we decided that we would need to do an external quality assurance. We might say it is negative when it is not negative. We have to do a quality assurance process by taking some of the samples which we test locally and we send it for testing to South Africa. We are not going to South Africa as South Africa. We go into South Africa as the WHO regional testing facility. I hope you understand that we are not going there because South
Africa is near.
It is because this is something which has been a level for a laboratory which has been set up by World Health Organisation in this region for the purposes of confirmation. In this case, our patients tested in our labs negative, tested in the WHO regional laboratory negative, tested in China negative and so, we give ourselves 100% for that. The next issue is the screening at the airport where you want us to improve. We will definitely improve and the way we are improving is we have recently gotten new equipment which is very sensitive. It can detect from 4 metres away and as you get closer, it is even much more sensitive. That fever we can be able to pick it up and be able to make a determination that the candidate has got an underlying condition which is causing the fever. That is the whole idea.
The fever, the temperature rise is as a result of an underlying disease. That is the approach and so, we definitely have some new equipment which is very sensitive, state-of-the-art as well which is being used worldwide. We are going to get further equipment which is concealed equipment. They do not come to you and point but as you walk past, it is concealed all around the area. It is like a radar and it just speaks up and says this one is not good stop and it alarms and you are stopped.
Interaction, we have an Inter-ministerial Committee and that is why I was saying we are working as a team at the border. We have an
Inter-ministerial meeting where we invited the Ministry of Immigration,
Ministry of Home Affairs which with a few reference with the police, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Environment, the President’s Office was there, ZIMRA and all the other Ministries were there. We agreed that all the workers at the airport, everyone has to work as a team. If you see someone doing the wrong thing, quickly remind them and let us feed information amongst ourselves. Utillise the manifest, access to the passenger manifest was restricted to one department. Now, we can share information.
We can tell straight away that the persons who are on that plain are coming from such and such a destiny, place of origin., coming from China, they have gone to Kenya or Addis Ababa and they are now coming down to Zimbabwe. We can tell that now. So, we are sharing information as a result of that inter-ministerial approach.
Mr. President Sir, the training of health workers, yes, the private hospitals, you are very correct, we have since decided that no, they should also be part and parcel of the training. They were part and parcel of the training initially but naturally, not everyone at this stage would have been trained. The person who might have been trained to become cool, calm and collected might be off on that particular day and then you remain with someone who is still new. So we said each and every health institution must train its people, its front line, intensive care and casualty people so that they can be able to handle these issues without any fear.
For the Government institutions we have said we need a preprimary screening area. For now it can be a tent while they identify another room somewhere so that people pass through there. Just like we were doing at the airport we want that temperature checked, we want to see what the signs and symptoms are before they go into the main area, the casualty area where everyone is and then it causes panic and pandemonium like what happened at the airport the other time.
Someone sent a false signal. 230 people scattering all over the place just because of someone who was irresponsible. They said they heard there is someone who is positive amongst the passengers. Everyone heard that and they all scatter. You would do the same thing. If I came here and said I have just travelled with a Chinese person who unfortunately has been taken ill to Wilkins hospital; you will all suddenly runaway. You will not even walk, you will all run away, let alone people who had been travelling with this person – 230 of them and then someone uttered those words of irresponsibility.
So the training of the private institutions – that is ongoing. Even at the training which is taking place today in Kadoma, we have people coming from the private institution. We have also said, through ZIMA and the College of Primary Care Physicians, they should train their people and go back and further retrain their staff.
Sanitation, adequacy of water – that is an ongoing process. We appreciate. In fact, we are using the fact that we have this problem to further push for the repairs of any water works which are not fully functional and sanitation.
Disposal of material – I think there we are well covered. Everything that we have used we are making sure that our incinerators are fully functional and we are also sanitising any of the products that would have been utilised in the isolation unit. Mr. President Sir, the issue of the ventilators, we are working on that. We realise that there is that need for ventilating our patients especially if they are coming in with respiratory problems. That is an essentiality, so we are working together with our sponsors to improve Wilkins Hospital to identify a section where that can take place and where we can also have these patients being well looked after.
So the issue of ventilators we are already addressing it and our sponsors, our co-partners are looking into it and we have another meeting on Friday where we have submitted the list of all this equipment. There is some new equipment which is also coming through. We are having to take some from one or two of our institutions who recently received some new equipment, so we are very much aware of that requirement.
I want to thank the Hon. Member. He touched on very critical issues. He has talked about the case management side of issues. We might talk about everything else but we want to be talking about the actual management of the case - if the doctor was to get sick today, would he be able to get that appropriate treatment. So that is very relevant. I thank you very much.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: I thank you Mr.
President for giving me this opportunity. Let me also thank the Minister and Dr. Mavetera. I have stood up to say, Minister you also do well but today you did your best. This is what we are expecting in good governance. If you have a post, we do not want to hear things in commuter omnibuses. Come here and present. If it is being talked about, we can now understand the issue and explain better. This is what is lacking.
If all Ministers would approach national issues this way; if it was always like this Mr. President that we do not hear it from the grape vine, then we will all be happy. I am very much excited. There are some
Ministers who do not want to come out clean on issues. I also thank Dr. Mavetera and the Minister. This is the spirit that we want. You did very well. This is what we want in the country. If something good is said by anyone, we have to support it. There might be many questions but what you have done today, let this reach the Head of State, President E.D Mnangagwa. We have praised you. If you keep it like this, you need to be always appointed.
*HON. SEN. SIPANI-HUNGWE: Thank you Mr. President. I
stand to add my voice on this important issue. This disease is very frightening. When I heard the Minister speaking, I was wondering that since I was having a sore throat, maybe I have been infected.
What I have stood up for is to say Minister, you did very well.
Senator Mavetera, although sometimes we fight, you did very well
Senator. We have to clap hands for you. The frightening issue is that this last week with our Committee, we went to Morton Jaffray where we get our drinking water. We heard the issue of hygiene. Hygiene can only be there when we have water. The situation we saw there, if this disease comes into this country, we will all die, even those who say they are Senators from outside Harare. We are here together and all of us will die.
I want to say to our Minister, are you aware that we do not have water in the city or our country does not have water because we are going for seven days without running water? Where I stay for example, we just get water on a Monday only. Right now we do not have water. What plans do you have or I can advise you to approach those who provide water to make sure water is available because all of us will die, including yourself.
DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Order, ask your question
*HON. SEN. SIPANI-HUNGWE: Sorry. I want to ask, what is
he doing as the Minister of Health and Child Care, because he is the one who is in charge of health, there is no water. What is he planning to do?
DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Thank you Hon. Senator
Hungwe. I will give the Minister the opportunity to respond to that; but I do want to remind Hon. Senators that one to three Hon. Senators in this august House have actually requested that we get a statement on the state of water, am I not correct – [HON. SENATORS: Yes.] – have we not talked about water issues? – [HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: Havauyi] – was it said? – [HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA:
Havauyi.] – I think it is one issue which we need to flag and remind the relevant authorities because as far as I remember, it is an issue which has been raised, that we have so many challenges of water especially in the urban areas.
*HON. DR. O. MOYO: Thank you Mr. President Sir. I appreciate and acknowledge the statements made by Hon. Sen. Charumbira. I shall endeavour to work hard and make sure that we protect our country from this scourge. As he rightly said, this does not need divisions, the disease does not discriminate in terms of which level of sickness or which party membership, we all fall sick the same way and we should work together.
Amazingly, that is exactly what we all agreed when I was presenting in the Lower House that this is for us all as Zimbabweans and if anyone has ideas, we listen. However, we should outwit those who through the back door, want to see us all perish, they are the troublesome ones, the fly by night newspapers.
I want to thank Hon. Sen. Hungwe for her observations to ensure that outbreak of diseases is reduced. We should have good infrastructure especially water and sanitation, it is a very huge issue.
We once talked about it during cholera outbreak. Cholera outbreak gave us some headaches; I am the only minister who is besieged with such diseases – [Laughter.] – from the beginning. I was saying to Hon.
Minister Parirenyatwa, ‘are you the one who sent these diseases to me?’ – [Laughter.] – That is what happens but we should rectify it. Where I come from in Chitungwiza, it is a hot spot for diseases. So, I was getting used to these outbreaks and we would always have a way out, but this one that we are faced with is frightening because it is spiritual. Cholera is another thing but this one is frightening. The issue of water – for people to wash their hands as we are encouraging is a problem when there is no water, what should people use? So, I will pass the message to Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, so that he understands the plight and help us. It is a very good advice that he should come and issue a statement. It is true that for us to be fully prepared, we should rectify the issue of water.
Surely for us to be prepared, we should rectify our water situation so that we have water. Should people use saliva to wash their hands? We want people to use clean water to wash their hands so that we would be able to control the spread of this disease. I think that is how I can answer. I thank you for the honour that you have accorded me Hon.
*HON. SEN. MAKONE: Thank you Mr. President Sir. I have two questions; the first one is, when this disease COVID-19 was discovered in China, there are steps that they took to curb the spread of the disease. We saw people on television moving around in protective clothing and it is the only country where we saw that the figures are going down. Are we waiting until we get the disease so that we encourage people to protect themselves because the carriers of this disease might not have high temperature, then I get it and I have a high temperature but I will be mixing and mingling with people. In other countries, they are considering banning all matches and other games that bring people together. As you have said, that this is an airborne disease and as people mix and mingle, the disease is easily spread.
What should we do to control that? Should we close our stadiums? In other countries, they have closed air flights. Should we continue receiving those people from countries which are affected because in other countries, they have been banned? Why do we not enact a law to ban people from countries which are known to have infected people until we are aware of where we are going because this is not a long term
thing? We do not have enough facilities; we need time to prepare when the disease comes to our country.
HON. DR. O. MOYO: Thank you so much for the question that was posed by Hon. Sen. Makone, it is a very pertinent question. We have not yet reached that stage of wearing masks. However, we have seen that those coming from outside the country are wearing musks which is a very good thing. We are also working on having lots of masks. As I stand before you, before I came here, I inquired on the progress of acquiring our masks, whether the first consignment has arrived. We want to have lots of mask but at the moment, we are not yet worried to that extend though we should be prepared and ready. Yes, it can happen that during the incubation period, one might not have a high temperature then arrives at our airport before high temperature; but now we are saying all those coming from affected countries should fill in a form with the correct address, which is the same address which they leave with the immigration and we make a follow up every day for the next 21 days and not 14 days to makes sure that the person who comes from an affected country is monitored. If one of these people goes missing from the quarantine, he will be doing wrong and that will not prevent the disease from spreading. That is how we view it. The issue of stadia is the one which I talked about especially soccer. I came from Tanzania today; in that meeting it was said we do not want large gatherings. So we agreed that for soccer we do not want people gathering. In other countries, if you check in England, only the playing teams go to the stadia. Only 22 players will be in the stadium and they play without spectators. It is no longer the issue of us being many doing what you were talking about; you explained it very well Hon. Sen. Is it that you attend soccer matches? - [Laughter.] - That is the exact issue that he talked about. If people cough in the stadium, it will affect everyone. So we need to be alert.
We understand that our team will be playing in Algiers. That is where we have a problem. They will go there and meet other people. We understand that in Algiers there are people who are sick and they will meet those people. We have to quickly see what we can do on that
issue. They must not go, is it not? I want to thank you because I have heard you agreeing with me. I will take that word up.
The issue of travel ban that, why are people from affected areas coming here? That is what we were talking about also but we did it in a clever way so that we do not have conflict with our friends and other countries. We did it wisely that before a person leaves his or her country they have to see their doctors, you are certified fit and then you can travel instead of you coming here, we test you at the airport and you are detained in isolation. This is what we are trying to do without affecting our relationship with many people. The idea which came out in Tanzania is that we can write names of countries that are seriously affected.
If you check in United Arab Emirates (UAE), they say that UAE citizen, if he is coming from those countries he is allowed to come but if he is tested and has the signs and symptoms they are sent to detention and you are quarantined. If you are not UAE citizen and come to the country and you are seen to be sick you are sent straight into detention.
I have also seen that they are refusing people to come into the country. If you are from Iran you are not allowed into the UAE. China, South Korea – they have a very long list; we are also looking into that. I just wanted to inform you that but we have to look at it in a tactful manner. If we start it abruptly, it will give us problems but we want to get to the level which we are talking about. That is what we want to do Mr. President. I think those were the issues. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF NGEZI: Thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity. I was once a border jumper going to South Africa. I am afraid that the people who are coming and checking are using the legal border but some are crossing illegally through Shashe River. What measures are you taking to prevent those people who are crossing the border illegally as we understand that South Africa is affected?
HON. DR. O. MOYO: The issue is, we talked about it when we had a meeting with Immigration and Home Affairs, they know all the routes and they gave them names. We asked them to put the police and they are guarding these areas. We want to have a full proof border. It is well known and being investigated. Since we got a lot of equipment, we will take the one at airports and give it to those who will be manning our borders. If they find these people, they will test them using that equipment. We are doing everything possible Mr. President.
HON. SEN. B. MPOFU: Thank you Minister for a comprehensive account of what is happening regarding this unfortunate disease. Part of my question was answered but I still need some bit of assurance. Since Covid-19 sufferers are symptom free for five days, my biggest worry is the Beit Bridge Border Post where we have got thousands and thousands of people entering everyday or tens of thousands every week. How is it practical to monitor such people? It is now just a matter of time before it comes to Zimbabwe.
HON. DR. O. MOYO: That question also comes to mind and anyone can worry especially with the Beit Bridge Border Post where we have a lot of people coming through. This is where we talk in terms of thoroughness and in actual fact, increasing the number of Port Health staff who will help us to ensure that we cover each and every individual who comes through thoroughly.
The issue of five days incubation before symptoms start showing is something which we will have to live with. The most important thing is the follow up process to be able to catch these travellers who will develop symptoms later. We have requested for additional posts to be able to cover at the borders and also to do the follow up. We have requested for more vehicles and fuel availability so that our staff are able to run and check on each and every point. We are strengthening our regulations and making sure that those who are in self quarantine remain in self quarantine rather than just by talking. We have also requested for an improvement in the allowances of our members of staff who have to deal with this situation. They are doing it all on our behalf; there-on the frontline taking the risk and that we have to appreciate by improving or giving them a risk allowance. – [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.] – I think that it is very critical. So your question is very relevant, we all need that assurance not just yourself that whoever is coming into the country is clean. I thank you.
HON. SEN. S. MPOFU: Thank you Mr. President Sir. The disadvantage of being the last one …
THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I never said
that you are the last one.
HON. SEN. S. MPOFU: I would like to thank the Hon. Minister for his comprehensive report. My question is - the Hon. Minister mentioned that the virus emanated from a sea food market in China. Is it safe for us as Zimbabweans to consume sea food? He also mentioned that the carriers of the virus are farm and wild animals. What about the birds, chickens, turkeys and ducks, do they also carry the virus?
Also on the animals, can one tell that this animal is a carrier of the COVID-19 virus? Thank you.
HON. DR. O. MOYO: Thank you very much Mr. President Sir and thank you Hon. Sen. Mpofu for your question. Yes, in China it might have been the sea food market but the virus itself was isolated from the bats that were being sold at that particular market. The Chinese are also in the habit of eating very unusual animal species like snakes, you know they also eat dogs. I am speaking softly but that is the reality that it is coming from animals rather than from humans to start off with – it is the animals where it came from. Even pangolins, we also have pangolins here and I know that some people like to eat pangolins in this country. They say that it is a delicacy, so let us keep away from it since it is a protected species. So we need to keep away from that.
In order for us to reduce and why we are saying animals, we just want to make sure that you have been to the kraals and all that with your goats and farm animals – just make sure that you wash your hands because you never know. Let us not take a chance, so let us just make sure that we wash our hands after touching that animal and you immediately dig into your meal and straight into your mouth without washing your hands - that is part of the hygiene. I am emphasizing because this has come out of the animals to humans and we do not want another scenario where we may end up with that type of condition coming out of whatever animal. It is a statement to retard or encourage people to continuously wash their hands after touching animals.
The issue of birds, chickens – there is avian flu but that is taken care of to some extent. At this stage we are not worried about the avian flu but are worried about this one that is coming from these other animals that are not avian. The birds differ from these other animals that are not avian. The bats are normally classified as reptiles – yes, they are animals, flying animals there is a difference there. When we look at the birds, we fear of the avian flu that is already taken care of but we do not want to get avian flu at the same time. All the chickens are well checked, the vets are looking after the chicken world very well. If there is an outbreak they are quick to handle it and most of our farmers are also very observant in relation to fighting the avian flu. Thank you.
HON. SEN. KHUPE: Thank you Mr. President. I also want to congratulate and say the statement that was issued by the Hon. Minister of Health and Child Care has liberated my mind. I did not know about all this. I think that it came at the right time and because of that information, certain questions came up.
If I am not mistaken, I heard the Hon. Minister saying that they now monitor people for 21 days to see whether or not they are not having COVID-19 symptoms. Suppose within the 60 days target and one or three people you are monitoring have been discovered with the virus, do you not think that by that time the infected person would have infected almost all the other people whom they would have been in contact with?
HON. DR. O. MOYO: Thank you very much Mr. President Sir
and I want to thank the Hon. Member for asking that question. Selfquarantine comes with rules. We have regulations on how selfquarantine is carried out. In actual fact, someone who qualifies for selfquarantine is given a leaflet of all the dos and donts and some of the dos are that they must stay within that particular vicinity all the time for 21 days, not even 14 days in our case. We are making sure that the person does not mix with a lot of people except for those people who are living in the same vicinity with him.
The people who are living in the same vicinity with him have also been told on how to communicate with that particular individual. They must not have continuous communication with the individual and when the individual wants anything, they go and leave a note outside the door. They have to bring their food and leave it outside the door. Once they finish eating, they put the plate outside the door. It is a very strict condition. We have said that if anyone fails or decides that they will not abide by those regulations they will be deported if they are a foreign traveler or they are visitors. We are being very serious about it, so they have to follow that.
This is the reason why you have also heard people complaining about the Chinese people who are continuously staying indoors; hanzi,
‘Aaah takamuona, akauya asi haachabudi payi? Mumba, tineshuwa kuti munhu uyu arikutorwara nechirwere.’ We get all those phone calls coming through now advising us that there is someone who is a foreign national who is not coming out of the room and we strongly feel that they are sick, please come and check. When we check in our records, we find that it is an individual that we are actually following up on. They will actually be doing the correct thing by staying indoors. We check temperatures on daily basis. It is a pity that I did not get the figures or numbers that we have cleared, i.e. those who have surpassed their 21 days and are now in 22 days. So the numbers fall down on daily basis and it is a continuous process. We monitor and make sure that we are all safe – that is what is very vital. I thank you.
Hon. Sen. Shoko having stood up to pose a question to the Hon.
Minister of Health and Child Care.
THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Are you
going to ask something very different? – [HON. SEN. SHOKO: Yes, Mr. President Sir.] – There are two people who still want to seek clarifications. Alright, then we will have Hon. Sen. Gumpo then Hon.
*HON. SEN. SHOKO: I thank you President of the Senate. I have heard the Minister saying he met the Minister of Environment,
Tourism and Hospitality Industry. In the hotels that we are staying, the workers who do our beds do not have protective clothing. An exercise must be done so that people who clean the rooms should have protective clothing. In fact, all the people who work in hotels should be protected. That is all I wanted to say Mr. President. I thank you.
*HON. DR. O. MOYO: Thank you Senator for the question. It is a pertinent question. When we met with people from the hospitality industry, I gave them a scenario of people who book in hotels and we are not aware of them. Your workers come in and clean and another one comes in so your workers become contact persons. That person will have already gone and we catch that person then the hotel is closed down. So they were asking for the way forward and I suggested they come up with a special committee headed by the Chairman of Tourism Industry. It should be speeded up so that we can hold a workshop for them to enable us to come together with the people from Infection Control and they will teach them thoroughly on how to handle such situations.
You just nailed it on the head because we were talking about it that look at that girl, she is going into another room and we do not know the status of the person who was sleeping in the room. Suppose the person is infected with the virus, they get in contact with the person and become infected. I think we should help them get protective clothing. At least we can get them gloves whilst waiting for masks. At least now we are engaging in full preparedness so that we will not be caught unaware. We talked to them about it and we are organising a workshop, which might have taken place yesterday when I was away. They will be given a list of what is supposed to be bought. Every worker, from the airport to the hospitals should have protective clothing. Mr President, I think that is how I can respond.
On the motion of THE MINISTER OF HEALTH AND CHILD CARE (HON. DR. O. MOYO), the Senate adjourned at Twelve
Minutes to Five o’clock p.m.