Zimbabwe's vice president Constantino Chiwenga was flown at the weekend to China for medical checks, an official said Tuesday.
Presidential spokesman George Charamba told AFP Chiwenga, a former army general who led President Emmerson Mnangagwa's rise to power following a brief military takeover in 2017, "flew back to China for his medical checkup".
Chiwenga spent four months undergoing treatment in China last year and returned home in November.
Charamba said Chiwenga had suffered from fatigue in recent days explaining his absence from a function attended by top government officials at Mnangagwa's farm.
"He was feeling a bit indisposed but he was quite cheerful when he left for China on Sunday," he said.
Chiwenga, 64, was admitted in a South African hospital last year for a constricted oesophagus. He was later transferred to India when his condition deteriorated before being airlifted to China in July for further medical tests.
His return to China comes as the Asian nation is battling to contain the coronavirus which surfaced there last December and became a pandemic.
Mnangagwa last week ordered a ban on foreign trips by government officials to avoid importing the pathogen.
Zimbabwe has not reported any cases of COVID-19 but a British tourist who recently visited Zimbabwe tested positive after he left the country, according to Health Minister Obadiah Moyo.
The country's health system is in a state of disrepair with shortages of critical machinery and drugs and often short-staffed.
Those who can afford often seek medical treatment abroad especially neighbouring South Africa.