By Anna Chibamu/Alois Vinga
VICE President Constantino Chiwenga who on Friday quietly slipped back into the country from Covid-19 hit China, was Saturday seen freely mingling with other government officials seemingly with no plans to self isolate in the wake of the highly infectious disease.
Zimbabwe has put stringent measures for prevent the further spread of coronavirus following an outbreak that has seen seven confirmed cases and one death in a space of a week.
Citizens who would have returned from countries worst hit by Covid-19 are required to go through the mandatory seven day period of isolation as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of a disease that has been brought into the country by travelling Zimbabweans.
VP Chiwenga travelled to China early this month for his regular medical check-up.
However, upon his return, the VP Chiwenga was seen Saturday afternoon at State House in Harare in the company of President Emmerson Mnangagwa receiving disinfectants donated to five city councils and public transporter, ZUPCO.
The material was donated by businessman, Kuda Tagwirei for use in the fight against the coronavirus.
Chiwenga was seen standing between Mnangagwa and Information Minister Mutsvangwa, wearing a face mask.
However, NewZimbabwe.com had earlier on contacted Mutsvangwa on whether Chiwenga would be in self-isolation and she insisted the former military commander was already in self-isolation.
“Yes. The VP is in self-isolation after returning from his routine medical treatment in China,” she said.
China is the first country to record the deadly coronavirus in December last year, which had by Saturday evening spread across the globe affecting 622 548 people and with 28 812 deaths.
On Friday, Mnangagwa had told journalists he had appointed Chiwenga as the chairperson of the national coronavirus taskforce, replacing Health Minister Obadiah Moyo, who is reported to have been criticised by Cabinet colleagues for failing to handle the coronavirus crisis in Zimbabwe effectively.
The virus recorded its first death last Monday in journalist, Zororo Makamba and on Friday, the cases rose to seven.
As the national COVID-19 taskforce chairperson, Chiwenga would be deputised by Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri. Ironically, the Defence Minister, was also quoted early this month claiming the COVID-19 was a European disease that was punishing the West and the US for imposing sanctions against Zimbabwe.
Mnangagwa and his lieutenants have been heavily criticised for not seeking self-isolation after travelling outside the country when the coronavirus menace was already being experienced by many world countries.
Two weeks ago, the president travelled to Namibia for the inauguration of President Hage Geingob. He did not seek the mandatory self-isolation while his Botswana colleague, President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who also travelled to Namibia for the same event, is currently in self-isolation.
Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube also travelled to Europe recently on government business, but on his return, did not go into self-isolation.
Information released by the Health Ministry show that from the seven coronavirus recorded in Zimbabwe so far, five of the cases were from patients who had recently travelled outside the country.
Most countries are now forcing every foreign traveller to be quarantined for at least 14 days as a measure to safeguard against the global virus.