PANIC has gripped the ruling Zanu-PF party after two senior party officials on Sunday tested positive for COVID-19 with confirmed cases likely to go up as results of mass tests done recently continue to pour in.
Zanu-PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu and the party’s director for Information Tafadzwa Mugwadi are now in isolation at home together with affected members of their respective families.
The Zanu-PF COVID-19 scare comes as Zimbabwe has recorded 291 deaths with 10 of them having been recorded on Saturday only. Ministry of Health and Child Care COVID-19 statistics yesterday showed that there are 10 718 cases of the virus that have been recorded throughout the country.
However, the country has also recorded 8 880 recoveries.
The party’s secretary for Health David Parirenyatwa yesterday told NewsDay in an interview that the party was now on high alert, adding that all measures were being put in place to curb the further spread of the deadly virus at their headquarters situated in Harare, which also houses a number of party bigwigs and staff. The Zanu-PF headquarters also plays host to several party meetings.
“What we did last time was to screen people and the results are coming in batches and all those who have been found to be positive have been asked to go into sell-isolation and to come back af-ter the prescribed date,” Parirenyatwa said without confirming the actual number of those affected.
“When we started the COVID-19 tests as a party, the first batch had five cases but that was about two months ago. So we are now going symptomatically and we check on anyone who would have developed the symptoms. The first time, we did a mass test but now we are following the national policy and that is what we are doing,” he said.
Parirenyatwa said the party was putting on a lot of measures to reduce the spread of the virus that has already claimed millions of lives internationally.
“We are putting a lot of measures now; we screen people at the gate, we do temperature checks and all the normal routine. We are intensifying that and even in our lifts, we have put COVID-19 measures, and as people get into other offices we make sure prevention protocols are observed,” he said.
Mugwadi yesterday took to microblogging site Twitter to announce that he was self-isolating at home and is adhering to all medical tips to suppress the virus.
“I will adhere to every medical tip as I battle this pandemic with my family,” Mugwadi wrote on his social media account.
Acting Zanu-PF spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa was not immediately available to comment on the matter. However, workers at the ruling party headquarters who spoke on condition of anonymity said there were fears that quite a number of people at the party offices could have contracted COVID-19.
Most of the officials work from the building and were feared to have been in close contact with the infected. To make matters worse, they were currently reportedly deployed across the country for the party district co-ordinating committee (DCC) elections, whereas according to protocol, they should be in self-isolation.
Over the weekend, Independent Norton Mem-ber of Par-liament Temba Mliswa also confirmed that his sister, a Zanu-PF official and Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs minister Mary Mliswa-Chikoka, had been battling COV-ID-19 in self isolation. Mliswa said she was now well after receiving treatment in Ha-rare.
“I can proudly declare she is a COVID-19 survivor,” he said. Government and the police re-cently warned Zimbabweans of complacency, and advised the na-tion to observe all COVID-19 reg-ulations, which include masking up and regular hand washing, as well as social distancing amid reports that there was a second wave of the pandemic that may hit the world and was deadlier.
Internationally, several countries have gone on a second lock-down period due to the second wave of COVID-19. Despite the warnings of the second deadly wave of the virus, last week, senior Zanu-PF officials set tongues wagging after pictures went viral of them feasting during Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa’s 60th birthday party without face-masks and with no social distancing be-ing observed.
But Mutsvangwa defended the stance saying that all COVID 19 protocols were observed at the party, including testing of the participants.
The senior officials that attended Mutsvangwa’s birthday bash included ministers and government bureaucrats. Cases of COVID-19 have spiked in Zimbabwe, particularly Harare and Bulawayo. – NewsDay ■