Zimbabwe must protect medics from virus, says court

Zimbabwe must protect medics from virus, says court

A Zimbabwe court on Tuesday ordered the government to provide healthcare workers with protective gear and roll out mass testing against the deadly coronavirus.

Rwanda Coronavirus - AFP

An association of human rights doctors brought the case to compel the government to beef up protection for public hospitals and healthcare workers.

Lawyers for the association said the court "ordered government to provide all frontline health practitioners with personal protective equipment... and to adequately equip public hospitals with enough supportive medication and help curb the spread of the epidemic".

The court also ordered  extensive screening "including mobile or door to door testing" to detect asymptomatic carriers.

The court, according to the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, called for more testing laboratories to be set up across the country and to increase the turnaround time for tests.

Zimbabwe has only one public COVID-19 test centre, situated at a government hospital in Harare.

The southern African country has so far recorded 17 cases, including three fatalities, although independent sources suggest the number of infections is understated.

The spread of COVID-19 could prove devastating for a country whose economy is crippled by hyperinflation of 676 percent and whose social health care systems are crumbling.

The public healthcare system faces shortages of basic drugs and lacks essential equipment and even running water.

Doctors and nurses staged a walkout last month in protest over a lack of protective clothing to care for coronavirus patients.

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