By Robert Tapfumaneyi
A CABINET minister says the country is facing serious shortage of Covid-19 testing kits and has put up plans to source loads of the crucial material locally.
This was revealed by Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri during a post-cabinet media briefing in Harare Tuesday.
Muchinguri-Kashiri also chairs the Ad Hoc Inter-Ministerial Task Force on the Covid-19 Outbreak.
“Yes, there is a shortage of testing kits. We have done PCR and Rapid test to the tune of more than 200 000 so far.
“We do agree that we have some serious shortage of these test kits and I want to report with confidence that already 220 test kits are on order.
The minister said US$20 million has since been disbursed to the Health Ministry procure the crucial equipment.
“We are confident that with the release of these test kits, we should see an increased activity in terms of our testing kits.
“Let me emphasise that we are expecting Ministry of Higher Education to continue producing PPEs in terms of the masks, sanitisers but also to emphasise that we are having much more sanitizers that are produced locally and much less of the face masks.”
Muchinguri added, “But the good news is that a lot of research already has been done by our universities and we are happy that we are almost through with the production of the three ply masks and also that they have embarked on serious research to produce testing swabs and we were briefed that they were at advanced stage.
“The Ministry of Health is emphasizing on local production that will also ensure import substitution which is now being prioritised will see the day.”
The minister also said the private sector has come in handy in helping government secure anti-coronavirus material.
As of Tuesday, Zimbabwe had 6 388 confirmed Covid-19 cases, an increase from the 5 643 reported last week.
Of the current cases, 5 078 are attributed to local transmission with Harare having the highest number of cases at 2 532, followed by Bulawayo with 1 271.
Deaths due to Covid-19 are now stand at 202.
Recoveries, on the other hand, increased to 5 043 from the previously recorded 4 525, while active cases increased to 1 150.