The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Reporter
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has extended the national lockdown under Level Two indefinitely, promising regular two-week interval reviews to assess progress or lack of it.
In an address to the nation yesterday, President Mnangagwa said 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.
As of Friday, the country had recorded 42 confirmed cases, with four deaths and 13 recoveries. According to the World Health Organisation as of yesterday, there were 4 425 485 confirmed cases across the globe, with 302 059 reported deaths.
“Despite these many achievements in the implementation of the National Preparedness and Response Plan, the outbreak is not over, and our country still has some gaps. These gaps are being addressed in a targeted way using a comprehensive Covid-19 preparedness and response strategy which takes into account risks and needs of different communities and populations. Zimbabwe will therefore continue on the Level Two lockdown for an indefinite period. We shall have regular two-week interval reviews to assess progress or lack of it. This should give us more time to strengthen the prevention and case management approaches for the various risk populations,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said additional regulations would come into effect, among them the adjustment of business operating hours 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.
“All businesses and industries seeking to re-open must follow laid down measures previously announced in relation to social distancing, hand sanitisation, temperature checks and health education, among others. In addition, employees must undergo regular health checks and daily temperature monitoring. Shops and supermarkets should continue to enforce the social distancing of their customers. The operating times of all businesses have been adjusted to be from 8am to 4.30pm,” said President Mnangagwa.
Pertaining the informal sector, President Mnangagwa said consultations on the phased re-opening of the sector were still ongoing with only designated food markets permitted to open.
On schools, the President said public examination classes and final year students at colleges and universities would be allowed to open.
“As previously stated, public exam classes within schools and final-year students at colleges and universities must be allowed to continue recognising however, the stipulated Covid-19 prevention measures. Meanwhile, clear plans of the phased re-opening of schools must continue to be put in place,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said the wearing of face masks as well as washing of hands or use of sanitisers in all public areas remains mandatory.
He further revealed that social and physical distancing would continue to be maintained and enforced at all times.
“The regular disinfection with approved disinfectants of all public and private business premises, coupled with the use of body temperature checks at all entrances, must continue. The measures currently in place in relation to social gatherings for worship, weddings, funerals, political rallies and other such gatherings, remain in force. Inter-city and cross-border movement of people by road or air transport remain banned, except for transportation of essential cargo. Inter and intra provincial and district movement remains controlled. Commuter omnibuses/ kombis, unregistered taxis also remain banned,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said Covid-19 testing capacity in all provinces would be increased noting that they were also encouraging private sector-run testing and isolation centres which would be facilitated in line with the prescribed policies of the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
“The 21-day mandatory quarantine of returning Zimbabwean citizens and legal residents, who will be tested on days 1, 8 and 21 will continue to be in force. The measures currently in place in relation to social gatherings for worship, weddings, funerals, political rallies and other such gatherings, remain in force. There shall be mandatory testing of truck drivers and other high-risk populations,” said the President.
He said bars and gymnasiums remain closed with restaurants and food outlets permitted to open only for takeaways and deliveries. The President said the World Health Organisation had classified Covid-19 transmission in the country as “sporadic”, with one or more cases imported or locally detected, which he noted suggested that despite the small numbers tested, Zimbabwe might have a reduced Covid-19 trajectory.
He said the Government would now focus on a combination of preventative and case management measures that are based on targeted and differentiated approaches which will ensure the achievement of high coverage of Covid-19 public health interventions.
“We must, thus, continue to minimise the risk of sudden spikes in the number of cases. To this end, it is imperative that we keep the pandemic curve flat to prevent the loss of life and devastating effects on the socio-economic environment of our country,” he said.
On the achievements of the national lockdown to date the President said local transmission of coronavirus has not been widespread with cases reported having mostly been imported or linked to imported cases especially from abroad. He said the country has made commendable strides in increasing testing capability which is translating into increased testing capacity in all provinces throughout the country.
“Important strides have been made in establishing isolation facilities in all provinces to enable the local management of cases as they occur. The training of a large number of health-care workers in various aspects of Covid-19 such as care, infection prevention and control as well as disease surveillance has been done and will continue.
“Social mobilisation and health education have been intensified and the Covid-19 messages have reached every corner of the country. This has included the translation of Covid-19 related literature into all the 16 national languages. The use of our traditional leadership structures as well as Non-Governmental Organisations, churches, the private sector, media houses, among others will continue to play a big role as we go forward,” said President Mnangagwa.