Yesterday Minister of Health, Obadiah Moyo, went on state television to report that the nation had confirmed it’s first case of Covid-19. This follows weeks of speculation where people expressed suspicion that despite what appeared to be lax regulations and lack of preparedness the government had not yet recorded a case. This paranoia heightened when certain individuals who passed through Zimbabwe tested positive in other countries.

This evening, Friday 20Th March 2020, the National Microbiology Reference Laboratory at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital confirmed that a suspected case of COVID-19 has tested positive. This is the first case of COVID-19 in Zimbabwe.

The patient is a 38-year-old Caucasian male resident of Victoria Falls, who had travelled to Manchester, United Kingdom on the 7th of March 2020 and returned to his home in Victoria Falls on the 15th of March 2020 via South Africa.

After arrival he put himself on self-quarantine at home as per our advice to all travellers coming from COVID-19 affected countries.

On realising that he was not feeling too well, he contacted his General Practitioner by telephone advising him that he had a persistent cough and sneezing. The GP alerted the local COVID-19 Rapid Response Team who immediately went to assess him and recommended that he continue self-isolation at home. Specimens were collected and ferried to the Reference lab for testing.

He continued with self-isolation at home and is showing signs of recovery after supportive management at home.

As a result of our preparedness, we managed to identify this first case in a timely fashion and ensure that he was appropriately managed.

Our teams are now engaged in contact tracing and are being assisted by the patient himself. We call for the nation to be calm as we deal with this first case of COVID-19 in Zimbabwe.

In the meantime, let us continue with good personal hygiene.

  • Wash hands with soap and water frequently or use an alcohol-based hand-rub,
  • Cover your nose and mouth with tissue paper or flexed elbow when coughing and sneezing
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. • Avoid close contact with people who are sick, coughing or sneezing
  • Avoid all unnecessary travel to and from countries with confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Finally, I want to appreciate the professionalism which has been displayed by our medical teams.