HARARE, March 19 (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Thursday thanked China and other countries for the support they have rendered to Zimbabwe as it steps up its preparedness to combat coronavirus (COVID-19).
The president was speaking at an occasion to launch the country's preparedness and response plan against COVID-19.
"I wish to acknowledge assistance so far extended to Zimbabwe by the People's Republic of China and the United Kingdom government," Mnangagwa said.
China has funded the refurbishment and upgrading, currently underway, of Zimbabwe's main coronavirus isolation and treatment center, the Wilkins Hospital, in Harare.
China also has a medical team in Zimbabwe which is assisting the country's health personnel with training on COVID-19.
Zimbabwe has not recorded any confirmed case of the virus and Mnangagwa on Tuesday this week declared the COVID-19 a national disaster to enable the government to mobilize resources towards the fight against the epidemic.
He also banned public gatherings, including national independence celebrations that were slated for next month in Bulawayo, as part of precautionary measures against the spread of the virus.
Mnangagwa said the national preparedness and response plan, with a budget of 26.4 million U.S. dollars, will enable the country to have an integrated and coordinated management strategy focusing on prevention of COVID-19 in Zimbabwe and mitigating the severity of its impact.
The Ministry of Health adds that the plan's overall goal is to minimize morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 and associated adverse socio-economic impact in Zimbabwe.
Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe should fully prepare and try to minimize the impact of the pandemic on citizens and the economy.
"With our high HIV prevalence of 14 percent in Zimbabwe, malnutrition and other non-communicable diseases especially among children, we are deeply concerned about the impact COVID-19 could have in Zimbabwe," he said.
He said it was incumbent for Zimbabwe to step up its preparedness against COVID-19 considering the volume of traffic between Zimbabwe and other countries in the region and internationally.
"As Zimbabwe we cannot continue with business as usual as it is no longer a matter of if but when our country will have these cases.
"We need to step up and enhance our preparedness and response to the scourge. This calls for extraordinary measures and responses," he said.
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