The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) calls for an urgent audit of the circumstances leading to the death of patient number 11 diagnosed with COVID-19 in Zimbabwe (Ministry of Health and Child Care Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: 07 April 2020). ZADHR is deeply concerned by the continued lack of preparedness in handling severe COVID-19 cases in Zimbabwe. Equally, we are extremely worried by the possible exposure of health workers both in private and public facilities who are working without PPEs. We urge the health authorities to account for the following grey areas in the management of this case:

It took five days (from 2nd April to 7th April) to get the result of the COVID-19 test a period which is rather too long. The absence of diagnostic facilities for COVID-19 brings to question the state of preparedness of centres outside Harare. What is the government doing to improve the turn-around time for tests?

The patient was treated at a local hospital. Is this an infectious diseases hospital or a COVID-19 designated facility? Previously the Minister of Health and Child Care has assured the nation that the country is ready to deal with COVID-19 cases countrywide. The lack of clarity arouses lots of questions.

The inability to diagnose on time is a clear sign that health professionals attending the deceased were exposed as they lack essential protective equipment (PPEs).

Does this case reflect the lack of knowledge on the case definition for suspected cases of COVID-19? The patient was first seen on 23 March and was not advised to self-quarantine, get tested for COVID-19, and managed as a suspected case.

What is the state of preparedness in centres outside Harare?

ZADHR believes this case and the continued demise of severe cases of COVID-19 patients mirrors the utter lack of preparedness of the health system. It also reflects the minimal focus on other regions outside Harare. Lastly, the Minister of Health and Child Care must be made to account on what he referred to when he claimed the country was prepared for COVID-19 when such regional inequalities and pervasive logistical issues characterize our response to date.

Source: Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR)