Conspiracy Theory That Coronavirus Does Not Attack Black People Gets Zimbabweans To Relax
22 March 2020
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Mpilo Central Hospital clinical director Dr Solwayo Ngwenya

THE country runs the risk of seeing the rapid spread of Covid-19 (Coronavirus), as healthcare workers do not have adequate knowledge on how to deal with potential cases while conspiracy theories about how the virus only attacks certain races had led Zimbabweans to act recklessly. 

In an interview with Sunday News yesterday, Mpilo Central Hospital clinical director Dr Solwayo Ngwenya said the lack of awareness and knowledge among healthcare workers was shocking, and instead of aiding in the fight against the virus, their actions could fuel its spread.  District hospitals, he said, were still rushing suspected Covid-19 patients to central hospitals instead of infectious diseases healthcare centres. Wilkins Hospital in Harare and Thorngrove Infectious Diseases Hospital are the healthcare centres that are expected to handle Covid-19 cases. 

“With our situation, the problem starts with the ignorance of health workers. Health workers should not, for example at district hospitals, just put patients into the ambulance and move them to central hospital. That will cause a lot of mass infection. The ministry is working on ways of trying to separate the two. People that are infected should be taken to Thorngrove which is run by city health. Those people have all resources, test kits and gadgets to actually care for people with infectious diseases like coronavirus,” he said.

Dr Ngwenya said he was also alarmed by the actions of people who still visited sick relatives in large numbers despite the fact large gatherings had been discouraged by Government. 

“As I speak today, I say people should not visit their sick relatives in large numbers. May we have one or two visitors coming to see a patient,” he said.

Dr Ngwenya said people saying only white people contracted Covid-19 were misguided, as the virus did not care about colour or creed. He observed that if the virus could overwhelm healthcare systems in developed nations, it could bring greater death and suffering to African countries. 

“In Africa it is very pertinent that we emphasise very strong on prevention measures because we don’t have the equipment and manpower to confront this virus. On our side this is compounded by ignorance because people have their theories and so forth. 

“The scientific evidence is that this virus infects all races not just white people. This is very important. At first there are no cases, then there is one case and then even more cases turn up and then afterwards they start reporting deaths. As we speak in South Africa, they went through what we are going through. As of yesterday, there were 202 cases and in Zimbabwe there was one,” he said. 

Dr Ngwenya added that it was important for people to realise that Covid-19 was not spread like the normal flu. 

“The virus appears to be transmitted from not only the cough, sneezing and so forth. For example, in one sneeze a person emits 3 000 droplets and in temperatures under 27 degrees they last as long as up to two days. People come and touch those droplets. So, by touching your eyes you are actually inoculating yourself with the virus,” he said.