The 26-year old Thai national who escaped from Wilkins Infectious Disease Hospital on Sunday afternoon pending tests for the new coronavirus causing Covid-19, but voluntarily returned to the hospital on Tuesday morning has tested negative.
The man, who arrived from his home country on February 14, was taken to Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital on Sunday after he had visited a private clinic in Harare where he reported a two-day history of coughing, mainly at night, fever and sneezing but left before samples could be taken.
Health authorities thought there was a very low possibility of Covid-19, as the man had arrived in the middle of last month and had not developed any symptoms within the incubation period.
City health director Dr Prosper Chonzi confirmed that the results of the tests carried on the Thai national came out negative and he had since been discharged.
He made these remarks during a tour at the isolation facility by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care yesterday.
“I can confirm that the Thai national who ran away from Wilkins Hospital on Sunday, resurfaced on Tuesday at the facility, had tests done and he tested negative.
“The man came in with his father and mother on Sunday, so they parked in the parking lot while he went to the reception.
“While he was there explaining his condition to the nurse in charge, he was told to wait while the nurse went in to wear protective clothing, but took this opportunity to escape,” Dr Chonzi said.
“He went to the parking lot where his parents were and they drove off.”
He said the incident was a clear indication that there was need to tighten the security at the hospital to prevent more cases of that nature from occurring.
“This incident opened our eyes as health officials.
“We realised that we need to strengthen our security at the isolation facility to ensure that there won’t be a repetition of the same incident in the future.
“We are currently working hard on tightening our security.”
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care chairperson, Dr Ruth Labode expressed concern on the incident saying Harare should consider legal action against those who escape from quarantine facilities meant to protect the whole country from Covid-19. “People should know that we are serious about this disease,” said Dr Labode.
The Thai man becomes the fifth person checked out in Zimbabwe after health authorities activated their “make sure” policy designed to stop any potentially- infected person from passing on the virus. But all have been found to be negative meaning Zimbabwe has no confirmed cases yet.
As of yesterday, more than 4 000 people had died from the coronavirus across the world and over 113 000 cases had been confirmed, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) with about 64 000 people now listed as having recovered from Covid-19 around the world as national health authorities and WHO intensify efforts to wipe out the infection, with Italy, now the second worst hit country after China taking the extreme step of a national lock-down to cut the chains of infection there.