Zimbabwean health workers refuse to work without COVID-19 protective gear


Citing the lack of protective equipment against the coronavirus pandemic, hundreds of healthcare professionals in Zimbabwe refused to work unless the government takes concrete steps to protect them.

The president of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association, Tawanda Zvakada, said doctors would return to the frontlines of the battle against the virus when adequate protection will be provided.

“Right now we are exposed and no one seems to care,” he said, adding that doctors have inadequate stocks of gloves, masks and gowns.

The southern African nation has seen seven reported cases of the virus so far and one death, with neighbouring South Africa reporting 1,187 instances of COVID-19, which has rapidly spread across the continent.

With the risk of an outbreak increasing day by day, industry chiefs in the country have warned doctors face inadequate supplies of gloves, masks and gowns.

It comes as nations across the world vie for a limited stock of protective equipment to tackle the virus, which has seen more than 467,000 confirmed cases worldwide and resulted in more than 21,000 deaths.

“Our members think the government is not taking them seriously. We can’t afford to lose nurses to this serious pandemic,” Enoch Dongo, secretary general of the 18,000-member Zimbabwe Nurses Association said.

Junior doctors at Harare Central Hospital, the country’s second biggest, have also withdrawn their services due to a lack of protective clothing to handle coronavirus patients, their union said.

Customs officials at the country’s biggest airport have also stopped reporting for work, fearing exposure.

Senior doctors at state hospitals said the government should consider a total lockdown of the country and equip all its medical facilities to handle coronavirus cases. (Source: Independent UK)