Zimbabwean govt not equipped to deal with coronavirus, brother of country's first victim says

2020-03-24 15:30

A family member of Zimbabwe’s first Covid-19 victim is of the view that the government is not equipped to deal with the deadly coronavirus.

"Right now, they don’t even have water at Wilkins. So, if you come here to be treated for corona there is absolutely no treatment you will get, you will die," his brother Tawanda Makamba said in a statement which was published in the Daily News on Tuesday.

This comes after well-known journalist, Zororo Makamba died from the virus on Monday afternoon.

The 30-year-old was the son of prominent Zimbabwean businessman, James Makamba.

According to his brother, the journalist was in New York for 20 days and had a slight flu when he returned to Zimbabwe.

Makamba was admitted to hospital on Friday last week after he developed a fever.

The 30-year-old’s compromised immune system resulted in doctors deciding to admit him.

"This is because Zororo had a tumour removed from just under his left lung last year in November, and he was under an 18-month recovery time-frame," his elder brother said.

After receiving advice to go to a hospital in Harare, Makamba tested for the virus and was told he would receive his results in six hours.

Not ready

It was later confirmed that he had tested positive for the virus and that he would need to return to the hospital.

"We then inquired if we could bring him immediately and we were told that the hospital was not ready to receive coronavirus patients. 

"So, in the morning we waited and waited and they were still not ready to admit him. He ended up being admitted around 10:00 and 11:00," Makamba's brother said.

According to Makamba family, he had to be on a ventilator because he could not breathe but that, when they arrived at the hospital, "there was no ventilator, no medication and even the oxygen would run out and they had to get it from the City of Harare".

The family ended up sourcing their own ventilator and brought it the hospital, but were told to buy an adaptor as the hospital allegedly only had round sockets.

"I then rushed to buy an adaptor and came back and they never used it, and when I asked why they were not using the ventilator they said they had no sockets in his room. So they didn’t have medication, ventilators and we brought them a ventilator and they didn’t have sockets in his room. I told them that I had an extension cord and pleaded with them to use the cord, but they refused," Tawanda Makamba said.

Request denied 

After exhausting all options, the family appealed to the government to move Makamba to another facility that could accommodate his medical needs, but this request was allegedly denied.

His elder brother further alleges that the family was asked to buy its own equipment worth $120 000.

"He added that once Zororo finishes using the equipment and recovers we had to donate the equipment to Wilkins Hospital. So basically the hospital wanted us to buy the equipment for them. We don’t have US$120 000 and it is not our responsibility to buy equipment for the government," he said.

Prior to his death, Makamba had called his brother Tawanda to tell him that he was "scared and lonely".

"The staff was refusing to help him, to a point where he got up and tried to walk out, and they were trying to restrain him.

"So, this is how my younger brother ended up dying. I want people to know that the government is lying," Tawanda said.

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has since announced the closure of the country's borders - except for returning citizens and cargo - effective immediately.

Gatherings of more than 50 people has been banned and bars, nightclubs, gyms and swimming pools closed.

Read more on:    zimbabwe  |  health  |  coronavirus

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