Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa addresses a press conference in Harare, capital of Zimbabwe, March 17, 2020. In an update to the nation on Tuesday, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared COVID-19 a national disaster, saying that the country had escalated its national response to the virus after neighboring countries in the region had reported cases. (Xinhua/Shaun Jusa)

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday appointed Vice President (VP) Constantino Chiwenga as new Minister of Health and Child Care.

Chiwenga takes over former minister Obadiah Moyo whom was fired by Mnangagwa last month over corruption allegations.

This means Chiwenga will double as VP and health minister. Misheck Sibanda, the chief secretary to the president and cabinet, confirmed the appointment of Chiwenga in a statement.

Sibanda said Chiwenga’s appointment was with immediate effect. “In making this decision, His Excellency the President has noted the urgent need to stabilize, restructure and reform the national health delivery system to better cope with challenges of the global COVID-19 pandemic, and in the process, ensuring a quick turn around in national health care,” Sibanda said.

Chiwenga takes charge of a ministry currently bedevilled by challenges including the ongoing strike by doctors and nurses demanding better pay, as well as shortage of equipment and drugs amid a spike in COVID-19 infections in the country.

The number of COVID-19 deaths in Zimbabwe has risen to 80 as of Tuesday. Meanwhile, the number of confirmed cases also surged to 4,075 after 154 cases, all local infections, were reported.

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