Namibia gifts Zimbabwe thousands of coronavirus test kits

24 April 2020 | Disasters

JEMIMA BEUKES

WINDHOEK

Despite Namibian authorities pleading ignorance, the Zimbabwean cabinet has confirmed that Namibia had gifted that country with 4 999 rapid coronavirus test kits.

Both health minister Kalumbi Shangula and his international relations counterpart Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah denied knowledge of the donation when contacted for comment yesterday.

Zimbabwean information minister Monica Mutsvangwa yesterday confirmed to Namibian Sun that her country has received rapid coronavirus test kits.

A Zimbabwean cabinet briefing, dated 21 April and shared with that country’s media, confirms that Namibia donated test kits to her neighbour. The kits will be distributed to provinces, Cabinet said.

This comes as Zimbabwe announced plans to ramp up testing its citizens for the virus.

Namibia on the other hand is struggling to test more people, with only NUMBER tested so far.

Mutsvangwa would not elaborate on the details of the donation and referred Namibian Sun to that country’s health minister, Obediah Moyo.

Zimbabwean media reported that these test kits would be used in that government’s drive to test at least 40 000 people for Covid-19 before the end of April.

When called for comment yesterday, Shangula burst out laughing, saying he was amused by the “creativity of the media”.

“Where would we get those tests from? How can we donate when we don’t have enough?” he asked.

International relations minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah was equally astonished by the news and said: “I know nothing about this.”

Namibia is struggling to get a firm handle on the pandemic because mass testing would be too costly.

Former health minister Richard Kamwi had earlier this month motivated the need for more mass testing.

“Generally, mass diagnostic testing will give you maximum results as you will know who is infected within a given population and also answer active surveillance,” he said.

“However, there is an element of economic challenge. Diagnostic test kits? They are likely to be too expensive – it is simply not a cost-effective exercise given the current economic situation of our country.

“Logistics on the ground are not affordable at this stage. It calls for expertise and serious logistics, for example protective gear for frontline workers to be in place,” he added.

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