The Sunday News
ACCORDING to United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, at least 42 African countries have imposed partial or full lockdowns on the movement and activities of people. And most importantly, the commission says experience around the world suggests that such interventions effectively suppress the spread of Covid-19.
President Mnangagwa on 16 May extended the national lockdown under Level Two indefinitely, highlighting that the move would give the nation time to strengthen the prevention and case management approaches for the various risk populations. He also announced a cocktail of additional preventive measures under the indefinite lockdown while buttressing the need for the country to continue observing strict measures that were already in place during the national lockdown.
The President said additional regulations would come into effect, among them the adjustment of business operating hours, now operating from 8am to 4:30 pm, and phased re-opening of schools. He said the modified phased re-opening strategy will further allow the Government to increase surveillance including early detection, testing, isolation, contact tracing, treatment and care with a focus on high risk populations.
However, we note that citizens appear to be losing their guard, as some are now ignoring some basic health guidelines meant to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. People are now flooding the streets in Central Business Districts across the country, and moreover, social distancing is no longer being observed, particularly in banks and retail shops.
Last week, long winding queues characterised the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) premises in Bulawayo as desperate consumers converged to buy tokens. It also emerged that the company had closed some of its offices in western areas, forcing residents to throng their main offices in the Central Business District.
It was observed that those in the queue were not even observing social distancing measures to mitigate against the spread of the deadly Covid-19 virus. Consumers told our sister paper, Chronicle that they were forced to disregard physical distancing measures claiming that ZETDC officials were letting people jump queues during the chaotic scenes.
The country has recorded an increase in the number of positive cases of Covid-19, and it is the responsibility of each and every one to ensure that they do whatever it takes to stop the spread the of the virus. The Government has put measures to curb the spread of the virus and also put in motion strategies to ensure that health facilities are ready to deal with patients if need arises, but the Government cannot win this war alone, for victory to be achieved, every citizen must play ball.
Another issue that has come to the attention of Government is the illegal movement of goods and people by cross-border truck drivers in and outside the country. Such activities are in violation of the laws of the land, and if unchecked, they will defeat all the efforts to contain the coronavirus.
Speaking during a post-Cabinet media briefing last week, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said while Government noted the important role played by truckers in the transporting of essential goods, there was a need to weed out the few bad apples.
The minister noted that with the high number of returnees into the country and truckers testing positive of the Covid-19 pandemic the Government will soon be availing guidelines for mandatory testing of all truck drivers.
“While acknowledging the critical role played by truck drivers in the movement of cargo across borders and between cities, Cabinet noted with concern that most truck drivers are testing positive for Covid-19, yet they are now responsible for the illegal movement of passengers between cities. Cabinet agreed that truck drivers found carrying passengers without authorisation be penalised and that truck drivers should be educated on regulations governing their operations in Zimbabwe at the borders,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.