A spokesman for Zimbabwe’s government who called doctors in the country “medical assassins” has apologised.
In comments posted to Twitter, Nick Mangwana had suggested that four cabinet ministers who died in recent months of coronavirus had in fact been “eliminated”.
Zimbabwe’s medical association reacted with fury.
They insisted their staff were working hard, with few resources and little pay, to fight the pandemic.
Following the backlash, Mr Mangwana stated on Twitter that he “had no intention to offend”, and said he hoped Zimbabweans could move on and “not be distracted from work at hand”.
He since appears to have deleted all his posts on the matter from the social media platform.
More than 28,000 people in Zimbabwe are known to have contracted the virus in Zimbabwe since the outbreak began, of whom more than 800 have since died, including Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo last week.
The BBC’s Africa correspondent Andrew Harding says the virus has overwhelmed the country’s chronically underfunded health system.
Our correspondent says some Zimbabweans have noted that, because of lockdown restrictions, the country’s political elites are no longer able to rush abroad to seek medical treatment as former President Robert Mugabe once did so routinely.
Instead Zimbabwe’s rulers are now obliged, mid-pandemic, to depend on a health system which they stand accused of breaking, he says.