Covid-19 scare: Zim hospitals accused of turning away Chinese nationals

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Some Chinese nationals in Zimbabwe have been denied access to health care since the Covid-19 outbreak though their cases were not related to the pandemic, says Beijing’s representative in Harare.

Guo Shaochun, China’s ambassador to Zimbabwe, made the claim after complaints by African countries that their nationals were subjected to forced quarantines and testing for the coronavirus in the Asian country.

Shaonchun called the cases in China “sensationalised” and “isolated incidents of what is misunderstanding caused by insufficient communication”.

He said some Chinese citizens were being unfairly treated in Zimbabwe.

“Since March, Zimbabwe has seen a series of cases in which Chinese nationals, with medical conditions unrelated to Covid-19, were refused treatment by local hospitals. Some Chinese individuals were verbally and physically abused in the street,” he said in a statement.

These cases were not in the public domain because “the Chinese embassy, Chinese nationals and journalists in Zimbabwe chose to inform the Zimbabwean authorities” rather than going to the media.

Zimbabwe has 14 cases of Covid-19 and three deaths from 547 tests in a population of about 15 million. Minister of local government, public works and national housing July Moyo, a member of the Covid-19 task force, told journalists that more needed to be done.

“The numbers (of positive Covid-19 cases) are few but we must not be satisfied about that because our testing is also very little. When the number of testing (samples) goes up, we think we will have more cases,” he said.

So far the majority of positive cases are in Harare metropolitan province which accounts for two deaths, Bulawayo with one death and Victoria Falls where the only positive case is recuperating at home.

So far no positive cases have been identified in the rest of the country. Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights said this “reflects the minimal focus on the regions outside Harare”.

Meanwhile, workers at Sino Hydro Corporation — a Chinese-owned power utility company — say they will sue their employer for failure to provide protective clothing and safe shelter for its 400 employees working at the US$1.4-bn Hwange Thermal Power Station expansion project.