The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube and Mthabisi Tshuma, Sunday News Reporters
ZIMBABWE has seen a massive jump in Covid-19 cases, with 2 374 cases and 57 deaths reported in two-and-a-half weeks of this month alone, triggering the Government to consider putting more areas under localised strict lockdown to curb the spread of the disease.
According to tabulations done by Sunday News from updates provided by the Ministry of Health and Child Care, the cases are about 300 percent more than what the country recorded in May. According to the data, Zimbabwe in May recorded just 704 new cases while this month so far, the country has recorded 2 374 new cases.
In terms of deaths, in May the country recorded 28 deaths, while this month already 57 people have succumbed to the disease, which is an increase of about 200 percent. For Bulawayo alone in May, 135 new cases and 11 deaths were recorded, while this month the city sits on 315 new cases and 21 deaths.
The new surge in cases has seen the country’s cumulative cases hitting 41 335 from March last year, 37 143 recoveries and 1 656 deaths, according to the Friday update from the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
There are also 61 Covid-19 patients admitted to the country’s hospitals of which 25 are asymptomatic, 107 have moderate symptoms, 27 are deemed to be in a severe state, while two are admitted in the intensive care unit.
As the country grapples with the increase in cases and deaths due to Covid-19, it has also emerged that in Plumtree alone, there are 20 active cases of which 12 are hospitalised at the local isolation centre at Plumtree District Hospital while eight are recovering from home. Mangwe District Medical officer Dr Joe Nganono told Sunday News that they were intensifying contact tracing as they move in to curb the spread of Covid-19.
“Currently we have 20 cases of which 12 of them are admitted to the isolation centre and the rest are at home. Of the 20 cases, eight are staff members from Plumtree Town Council water works who tested positive last week. Most of the cases have mild symptoms and we continue to do contact tracing as we have strengthened and intensified our Covid-19 testing system,” said Dr Nganono.
The Government has responded to the surge of cases by introducing strict localised lockdowns. To date five districts in the country — Kwekwe, Karoi, Kariba, Makonde and Hurungwe — have had localised lockdowns effected to contain the pandemic, while Masvingo and Chiredzi have been identified as Covid-19 hotspots. In Bulawayo, Nkulumane, Emakhandeni and the city’s northern suburbs have been identified as hotspots.
Commenting on the rise of cases, Minister of Local Government and Public Works, Cde July Moyo, who is the Cabinet Minister overseeing the Bulawayo provincial Covid-19 taskforce said it was highly possible that more districts and locations could see localised strict lockdowns being put in place. He said the Government’s major concern was to prevent the pandemic from spreading in the country as the third wave was thus far proving to be deadly.
“As you know we already have a national lockdown but, in some districts, we implemented a stricter localised one so as to curb the spread in these districts. However, as more and more districts have rising figures, we will certainly be forced to have more of these localised lockdowns. Our plea is that people adhere to these measures because all that we are working at is ensuring that we protect them from this third wave which is proving to be deadlier,” said Cde Moyo.
Questioned on the likelihood of Bulawayo going on localised lockdown, the minister said they will wait for guidance from health officials in the city for a decision to be reached.
“I wouldn’t proclaim right now that we will be declaring a strict lockdown here but we will continue getting guidance from the Ministry of Health and Child Care, if they feel there is a need for stricter lockdown measures in the city, we will certainly take that route,” he said.
Last week, Bulawayo Health Services Director, Dr Edwin Sibanda revealed that while a few suburbs had been identified in the city as being Covid-19 hotspots, it was impossible that a localised lockdown be implemented in those areas only. He said an ideal situation would be to have a city-wide strict lockdown.
“There is that danger that the whole city could be placed under a localised lockdown. It is almost impossible to have a localised lockdown targeting a suburb because you can have someone living in an area that has been classified as a hotspot but working in the city centre. So, it won’t be feasible to have a lockdown targeting a suburb,” he said.
Dr Sibanda said to prevent a spike in Covid-19 cases members of the public should adhere to prevention measures which include social distancing, regular hand sanitisation, proper wearing of masks and they should be vaccinated.
Vice-President and Health and Child Care Minister Dr Constantino Chiwenga announced new lockdown regulations which came into effect on Monday last week. Under the new regulations, all gatherings except funerals are banned.
Companies have been directed to decongest their staff by 50 percent while workshops have been banned. The new measures also stipulate that restaurants can only serve takeaways. Beer halls and nightclubs remain closed while bottle stores operate from 10am to 4pm with retailers and shops operating from 8am to 6 pm. Major sporting codes like soccer have been banned as well.