Wed, 01 Apr 2020

Thousands of hospital nurses in Zimbabwe went on strike Wednesday over a lack of protective gear and water shortages days after the country reported its first coronavirus cases, their union said.

Zimbabwe has recorded three cases in less than a week and one of the patients, a 30-year-old broadcaster, died on Monday.

The southern African country's public health system has been suffering for many years from a lack of equipment and medicines, and there are fears it will struggle to cope with the outbreak.

In a notice to government, the nurses are demanding personal protective equipment, water and a coronavirus risk allowance.

"We attend to so many people, some of whom could be infected, so our chances of catching the disease are very high," Zimbabwe Nurses Association president Enock Dongo told AFP.

Disease

"We commute to and from work and would spread the disease all over the place."

"The government should at least try to provide us with the required protective gear," he said.

He accused the government of "showing a lack of concern" and said healthcare workers have not been informed about the disease which has killed more than 19 200 and infected 427 940 people in 181 countries.

The government has claimed for weeks that it is prepared for the pandemic.

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