China a key ally in Zimbabwe’s COVID-19 battle

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Chinese medical team members and Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Guo Shaochun (C) pose for a photo at Robert Mugabe International Airport in Harare, Zimbabwe, on May 11, 2020. (Xinhua/Wanda)

China is a key ally of Zimbabwe in the fight against COVID-19.

While the Southern African country has struggled to obtain financial bailouts due to the sanctions that weigh its economy down, China has remained a reliable friend, offering the much-needed assistance that has helped strengthen the country’s response to the pandemic.

By Thursday, Zimbabwe had reported 885 COVID-19 infections and 9 cases, according to data from the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

Soon after reporting its first case in March, various Chinese companies operating in the country offered $500,000 for the rehabilitation of Wilkins Hospital in Harare, the country’s main isolation and treatment center for COVID-19.

The resultant renovation enhanced the facility’s capacity to handle infections, boosting the country’s efforts against the disease.

“We are now able to manage some of the critically ill patients. We are happy that we now have proper ICU beds and proper state of the art ventilators, not in the numbers we would want but at least we can save more lives now,” Prosper Chonzi, the medical director of the hospital, said.

During the same month, the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation chipped in with a huge consignment of medical supplies to help the African country combat the disease, including 20,000 laboratory diagnostic test kits, 100,000 medical face masks and 1,000 protective suits and face shields.

Since then, the Chinese government, through its embassy in Harare and Chinese firms operating in the country have been taking turns to hand over donations of anti-virus medical supplies to Zimbabwe.

In April, the Chinese government handed over a significant consignment of medical supplies and equipment to Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa to help the country fight COVID-19.

The supplies that were handed over by Chinese ambassador Guo Shaochun include 166,000 face masks, 7,600 protective suits, 20,000 test kits, 12,000 pairs of gloves and five ventilators.

Guo said amid the COVID-19 pandemic, China-Zimbabwe ties continue to blossom as evidenced by the two countries’ joint fight against the disease.

A Chinese team also arrived in the country in May to help in the fight against the disease.

The 12-member team brought along with it a consignment of medical supplies including ventilators, nucleic acid testing kits, face masks and medical protective suits.

President Mnangagwa has hailed China’s aid, noting that it had helped its country bolster its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We remain most grateful for the assistance that continues to be extended to us by the Government of China towards the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

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