Malaria outbreak in the midst of COVID-19 plunges experts into confusion

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THE outbreak of Malaria in the midst of COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in a state of confusion among health experts owing to the similarities in the symptoms for both diseases.

Medical experts told Zim Morning Post this week that patients of both diseases exhibit almost similar symptoms, hence causing a headache in illness diagnosis and reccomended treatment.

“It’s quite unfortunate that the country experienced a malaria outbreak at a time we are grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. Both diseases possess same behavioural traits and almost similar symptoms, that may result in misdiagnosis and wrong drug prescription hence complicating the situation,” said an Australian-based Zimbabwean doctor who spoke to this publication over the phone.

“There is need for local doctors to further their investigations and deep diagnostic tests on suspected patients to come up with conclusive results and accurate diagnosis,“the source added.

This assertion was cemented by submissions made by the National Malaria Control director in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Joseph Kumberikunashe on Thursday.

“It’s quite unfortunate that this year identifying malaria cases is a bit complicated because the signs and symptoms are almost the same with COVID-19. This puts a situation where illnesses are mimicking each other and it will be difficult to tell whether it’s COVID-19 or malaria,” Mberikunashe said.

He said their investigations noted that malaria was prevalent in mining areas, affecting mainly artisanal gold miners.

Mberikunashe’s sentiments give credence to previous reports where some United States medical experts opined that hydrochloroquine could be used to reduce the effects of COVID-19.

Chloroquine is the traditional malaria treatment drug and the former is the liquefied form.

Meanwhile, at least 131 Zimbabweans have succumbed to Malaria since the beginning of the year, a 10 percent increase from the 118 deaths recorded by May last year, statistics released by the Health and Child Care ministry reveal.

Observers say the number could be higher since some cases are never reported.

More than 170 000 cases have been reported countrywide since January.

Like COVID-19, Malaria is a zoonotic disease since it is transmitted through mosquito bites, while coronaviruses (cause of COVID-19) are also transmitted from animals to humans.

The crown shaped coronavirus that causes COVID-19 was first discovered in Wuhan, China, late 2019 and has killed four people in Zimbabwe with 28 confirmed cases and two recoveries.

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