THE Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe has called on locals and the Chinese to avoid “prejudice and discrimination” and instead join hands in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.
— Staff writer
Chinese Embassy deputy ambassador Zhao Baogang spoke at a time Zimbabwe has recorded three official cases of the virus with one fatality. So far, 490 144 cases have been reported worldwide while a total of 22 154 people have died from the virus.
A total of 46 African countries have reported coronavirus cases.
The pandemic has in some cases, Zimbabwe included, attracted stigma against Chinese nationals largely because the first case was recorded in Wuhan, China, which became the epicentre of the pandemic before moving to Europe.
The World Health Organisation has warned that the United States could be the next epicentre of the virus.
Zhao said there was a need for unity and cooperation between Zimbabwe and China as they were victims of the virus alongside other affected nations.
“At this critical juncture, we are all victims of the virus because we are all severely impacted. But China and Zimbabwe are traditionally good friends and our relations have been elevated from all-weather friends to strategic partners.
“We supported each other in the past and we must continue to support each other,” Zhao said.
“When China was battling the coronavirus, the President of Zimbabwe (Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Foreign Minister (Sibusiso Moyo) and Information minister (Monica Mutsvangwa) expressed solidarity with China. Most African countries expressed solidarity with China,
“Now that Zimbabwe and other African countries are affected, we are ready to share our experiences and assist with medical supplies including test kits so that we help each other to fight the virus.”
Zhao said Chinese doctors and medical experts recently held a video conference with Zimbabwean doctors and the academia to share experiences so that the virus is effectively fought.
“At this critical juncture we are all victims of the virus because we are all severely affected, but the battle against the coronavirus as well as the significance and importance of a community with a shared future have become very important. Only with solidarity will we be able to prevail against the virus. This is why some statements by some politicians, like the US President (Donald Trump) who have called the virus a Chinese virus or the Wuhan virus are very irresponsible,” Zhao said.
“Even in Zimbabwe, there have been cases where some Chinese nationals are labelled, but we say no to prejudice and the pointing of fingers. Let’s work together and we will prevail because united we stand but divided we fall.”
Zhao said the Chinese government was in the process of shipping medical supplies to help Zimbabwe fight the virus.
Zimbabwe has also received the first batch of Covid-19 medical kits donated by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma.
The consignment of medical supplies was part of Zimbabwe’s share of the 1,1 million testing kits, six million masks and 60 000 hazmat suits and face shields that Ma pledged to donate to all African countries.
The embassy has also mobilised Chinese businesses operating in Zimbabwe to upgrade Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital. The companies have donated more than US$500 000 towards the programme meant to boost efforts to control the spread of Covid-19.
Wilkins Hospital was badly exposed when the first cases of the virus were recorded in the country, claiming the life of broadcaster Zororo Makamba.
In a statement this week, his elder brother, Tawanda Makamba, said the family had been disappointed by government’s lies on the country’s preparedness.
The hospital failed to provide Makamba with medication, as well as oxygen or a ventilator to help with his breathing. Tawanda revealed that there were no power sockets in the isolation unit to plug in the ventilator sourced by the family.
The institution also does not have an intensive care unit and does not have enough protective gear for workers.
The Chinese are hoping to upgrade the hospital to match international standards.
In addition, the embassy and Chinese businesses are also mobilising resources to combat the spread of coronavirus in Zimbabwe by, among other efforts, sourcing medical equipment, which includes an oxygen machine, breathing machine, test kits and protective suits, masks and other protective wear for health workers.