China pledges to upgrade Zimbabwe's quarantine facility
HARARE - The Chinese government on Thursday pledged to upgrade Zimbabwe's main isolation center for suspected coronavirus patients in the capital Harare.
Also, the Zimbabwean government announced it was stepping up its preparedness after neighbouring South Africa on Thursday confirmed its first case of the virus, the first such case in southern Africa.
Addressing the media after touring Wilkins Hospital in Harare which has been designated to deal with the virus, Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe Guo Shaochun said China will support Zimbabwe and other African countries to deal with coronavirus which has now been reported in seven African countries.
"So far there is no confirmed case of coronavirus in Zimbabwe and it's not because we are lucky. It is the outcome of the cooperation between China and Zimbabwe. We will support the Zimbabwe government to adopt necessary measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
"This afternoon I toured Wilkins Hospital and I now have a rough idea about the facility. China would like to assist particularly African countries in fighting against the coronavirus," Guo said.
Guo said the Chinese government will provide fund and equipment to upgrade Wilkins Hospital so that it could provide better conditions for suspected coronavirus patients.
Zimbabwean Health Minister Obadiah Moyo thanked China for the kind gesture, saying it will not only boost the country's capacity to deal with the virus but ensure a clean and conducive environment for medical staff and patients that meets World Health Organization requirements.
The facility has so far handled two suspected cases of the virus since it was set up in January.
Moyo said following the detection of the virus in South Africa, Zimbabwe needed to ramp up its preparedness and continue to strengthen its response mechanisms, including making all its borders and points of entry full proof.
"It is very frightening that it (coronavirus) is around the corner. We have to be prepared," he said.
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID) on Thursday donated coronavirus protective equipment to Wilkins Hospital worth about 100,000 British Pounds (129,390 U.S. dollars).