By Mashudu Netsianda and Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu
Bulawayo is now leading in terms of Covid-19 deaths after a 54-year-old Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) manager succumbed to the virus at a private hospital on Sunday, forcing the closure of its Mhlahlandlela Government Complex offices yesterday.
The city has so far recorded four deaths followed by Harare where three people have died of Covid-19.
Mashonaland East and Midlands provinces recorded one death each bringing the total number of Covid-19 deaths in Zimbabwe to nine.
Following the death of the Zimra manager Mr Thabani Sibanda on Sunday, the Mhlahlandlela offices have been closed for disinfection and will reopen on Monday.
When Chronicle visited the offices yesterday, the main entrance at the reception area was under lock and key and on the notice board there was a notice notifying clients of the temporary closure.
“The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) hereby wishes to advise its valued clients that the offices will be closed from July 7, 2020 to July 11, 2020. Staff will be working from home and during this period there will be limited services,” read part of the notice.
In an internal circular, Zimra Commissioner-General Ms Faith Mazani said the Ministry of Health and Child Care has started testing their staff at Mhlahlandlela Building for Covid-19. She said all the tested staff members will be required to go on a mandatory quarantine for 14 days.
“We encourage all staff members to remain vigilant and consistent in practising safety and health measures as prescribed by the WHO guidelines and as advised through the Ministry of Health and Child Care,” she wrote.
Zimra spokesperson Mr Francis Chimanda declined to comment on the cause of Mr Sibanda’s death.
“Zimra cannot provide comment on an individual’s health issues. All I can say is that we have temporarily closed offices at Mhlahlandlela Complex in Bulawayo from Tuesday, 7 July 2020 and will reopen on Monday, 13 July 2020 to allow full disinfection of the premises,” he said.
A family spokesperson said Mr Sibanda was buried yesterday, but could not give further details.
Sources at Zimra and health officials who declined to be named said Mr Sibanda had succumbed to Covid-19.
In its update on Covid-19, the Ministry of Health and Child Care said: “As at 06 July 2020, Zimbabwe had 734 confirmed cases, including 197 recoveries and nine deaths. We regret to report the death of a male aged 54 from Bulawayo province who tested positive on Sunday and had no travel history.”
Bulawayo provincial medical director Dr Welcome Mlilo said Bulawayo now has four Covid-19 deaths.
“I can confirm that we have recorded a fourth Covid-19 death in Bulawayo metropolitan province after a 54-year-old man with comorbidity succumbed at a health facility over the weekend,” he said.
“The Covid-19 prevention measures remain unchanged. We continue to encourage good hygiene especially hand washing as well as observing social distancing and wearing of face masks in public space.”
In May, Zimra closed its city centre offices in Bulawayo after a member of staff tested positive for Covid-19.
The employee was one of three employees who served an infected client at the Zimra’s Bulawayo port offices on March 18.
Having received the information that the client had tested positive for Covid-19, the three officers then proceeded to self- quarantine from March 27 to April 26.
Upon returning to work on April 27, the three officers were tested and one of the results came out positive while the other two tested negative and management decided to briefly close the offices for disinfection. The Chronicle