Zimbabwe doctors, nurses strike over lack of virus protection

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Zimbabwe doctors, nurses strike over lack of virus protection
A billboard is installed on an apartment building in Cape Town, South Africa, Wednesday, March 25, 2020, before the country of 57 million people, will go into a nationwide lockdown for 21 days from Thursday to fight the spread of the new coronavirus. (AP Photo/Nardus Engelbrecht)
A billboard is installed on an apartment building in Cape Town, South Africa, Wednesday, March 25, 2020, before the country of 57 million people, will go into a nationwide lockdown for 21 days from Thursday to fight the spread of the new coronavirus. (AP Photo/Nardus Engelbrecht)

(AP) — Zimbabwe’s public hospital doctors and nurses went on strike Wednesday over a lack of protective gear as the coronavirus begins to spread in a country whose health system has almost collapsed.

It’s the latest blow to a system where some patients’ families are asked to provide such basics as gloves and clean water.

“Right now we are exposed and no one seems to care,” said the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association president, Tawanda Zvakada.

He said the hundreds of doctors will return to work when the government provides suitable protection.

Hundreds of nurses at public hospitals joined the strike, said Enock Dongo, president of the Zimbabwe Nurses Association.

Zimbabwe has reported three cases of COVID-19 and recorded its first death this week.

Neighbouring South Africa’s coronavirus cases jumped to 709, its health minister said, as the country with Africa’s most cases prepared to go into lockdown Friday.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize noted “intense local spread” in Free State province after a church gathering where five cases were first reported. All recently travelled abroad.

Now almost 30 cases are recorded.

Cases across Africa are now well above 2,400. With Mali, Libya and Guinea-Bissau announcing their first, 46 of the continent’s 54 countries have the virus.

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