Zimbabwe coronavirus suspect tests negative after hospital escape

2020-03-11 20:46
Nurses in the isolation unit at Tygerberg Hospital in the Western Cape on March 11, 2020 in Cape Town, South Africa.

Nurses in the isolation unit at Tygerberg Hospital in the Western Cape on March 11, 2020 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Gallo Images/Misha Jordaan)

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A suspected coronavirus case who escaped from hospital in Zimbabwe tested negative on Wednesday, authorities said, after causing panic by eluding medical staff and running loose in the capital.

The 26-year-old Thai national, whose name was not given, escaped the Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital in Harare after he was admitted for coronavirus testing on Monday.

The man escaped with the help of his relatives and was later spotted buying medicine at a pharmacy, prompting police to launch a search party.

Prosper Chonzi, who heads Harare's health department, told AFP that the man voluntarily returned to hospital on Tuesday morning.

The reasons for his escape remained unclear.

"Maybe he was initially apprehensive, maybe he was confused," Chonzi said.

No cases of coronavirus have so far been detected in Zimbabwe.

"No one knew whether he had coronavirus or not," Harare resident Elvis Rukwata told AFP.

"Our fear was that he was getting in contact with more people and infecting them."

Neighbouring South Africa remains the only country to have confirmed cases in the southern African region, with 13 people tested positive since last week.

Read more on:    zimbabwe  |  coronavirus  |  southern africa
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