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.


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