Vice President Kembo Dugish Mohadi yesterday said Zimbabwe is in a war situation because of the novel coronavirus which has infected 463 people and killed four since the beginning of the national lockdown three months ago.

Mohadi, who was addressing the Covid19 provincial taskforce committee for Midlands at Zanu PF Conference Centre just outside Gweru on Thursday, said Harare was forced to rope in medical personnel from the uniformed forces to ease the burden faced by overwhelmed government doctors and nurses amid an acute surge in coronavirus infections in the country.

“We are in a war situation. The Ministry of Health and Child Care was getting overwhelmed because we were not getting the results we would have wanted. At one time, they told us we would test about 1 000 per day and had given us a target of 40 000 people nationally and that was not to be,” said Mohadi who also chairs the national Covid19 inter-ministerial taskforce committee.

“We then had to rope in our security services, the medical personnel had to join them so that we test as many people as possible, especially the returning residents. But we are still not happy with the numbers, the numbers are very low and we need to test more,” he said.

He also said Zimbabwe’s failure to test more people was attributable to lack of enough laboratories and testing equipment.

Notwithstanding the Covid19 scourge, the country’s health sector has been in apparent turmoil amid shortages of medical drugs and appalling working conditions for doctors resulting in perennial industrial strikes by disgruntled medical staffers.

“The PCR’s are few, the GeneXpert machines are few. If they are adequate, they don’t have consumables like cartridges. We don’t have them in numbers we would want. Even PCR themselves, they need primus so that each and every centre can test,” Mohadi said.

Meanwhile, the vice president has said Harare is ready to assist in the repatriation of thousands of Zimbabweans who are currently stranded in China, the United States, South Africa and various other countries across the globe.

On Tuesday, VP Mohadi said, the country received 281 of its citizens who were in cruise ships in Miami in the US. Over 2 000 returnees who were stranded in South Africa have also been repatriated back home.

Most Covid19 cases in the country are of returnees from, esspecially South Africa which has been home to an estimated three million Zimbabweans living and working in the southern African economic powerhouse.

Most people, esspecially the youths, left Zimbabwe after the economic situation severely deteriorated during the turn of the 21st century when deposed late long-ruling president Robert Mugabe introduced a controversial agrarian programme which resulted in war veterans evicting former white commercial farmers from productive tracts of agricultural land.

Once revered as the breadbasket of southern Africa, Zimbabwe’s economic fortunes have alarmingly waned in the last two decades, with the country now a pale shadow of its former glory.