Some Chinese nationals in Zimbabwe have been denied access to health care since the Covid-19 outbreak though their cases were not related to the pandemic, says Beijing’s representative in Harare.
Guo Shaochun, China’s ambassador to Zimbabwe, made the claim after complaints by African countries that their nationals were subjected to forced quarantines and testing for the coronavirus in the Asian country.
Shaonchun called the cases in China “sensationalised” and “isolated incidents of what is misunderstanding caused by insufficient communication”.
He said some Chinese citizens were being unfairly treated in Zimbabwe.
“Since March, Zimbabwe has seen a series of cases in which Chinese nationals, with medical conditions unrelated to Covid-19, were refused treatment by local hospitals. Some Chinese individuals were verbally and physically abused in the street,” he said in a statement.
These cases were not in the public domain because “the Chinese embassy, Chinese nationals and journalists in Zimbabwe chose to inform the Zimbabwean authorities” rather than going to the media.
Last week it was reported that the African community in Guangzhou is on edge after widespread accounts were shared on social media of people being left homeless this week, as China’s warnings against imported coronavirus cases stoke anti-foreigner sentiment.
In the southern Chinese city, Africans have been evicted from their homes by landlords and turned away from hotels, despite many claiming to have no recent travel history or known contact with Covid-19 patients.
CNN interviewed more than two dozen Africans living in Guangzhou many of whom told of the same experiences: being left without a home, being subject to random testing for Covid-19, and being quarantined for 14 days in their homes, despite having no symptoms or contact with known patients.
Health authorities in Guangdong province and the Guangzhou Public Security Bureau did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
The move comes amid heightened media coverage of the so-called second wave of coronavirus cases, emanating from infections outside of China. Earlier this week, Chinese President Xi Jinping urged authorities to carefully watch for imported cases from other countries, state news agency Xinhua reported.
But one aspect of the data has received relatively less public attention: on March 26, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Luo Zhaohui said 90% of China’s imported cases held Chinese passports.
Zimbabwe has 14 cases of Covid-19 and three deaths from 547 tests in a population of about 15 million. Minister of local government, public works and national housing July Moyo, a member of the Covid-19 task force, told journalists that more needed to be done.
“The numbers (of positive Covid-19 cases) are few but we must not be satisfied about that because our testing is also very little. When the number of testing (samples) goes up, we think we will have more cases,” he said.
So far the majority of positive cases are in Harare metropolitan province which accounts for two deaths, Bulawayo with one death and Victoria Falls where the only positive case is recuperating at home.
So far no positive cases have been identified in the rest of the country. Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights said this “reflects the minimal focus on the regions outside Harare”.
Meanwhile, workers at Sino Hydro Corporation — a Chinese-owned power utility company — say they will sue their employer for failure to provide protective clothing and safe shelter for its 400 employees working at the US$1.4-bn Hwange Thermal Power Station expansion project.