Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
Bulawayo has effectively been put under lockdown after Cabinet yesterday approved that three districts that are Covid-19 hotspots be placed under localised lockdown, with security details being deployed to enforce the regulations.
Cabinet also postponed the reopening of schools by two weeks following a spike in Covid-19 cases being recorded countrywide.
Schools were initially scheduled to reopen next Monday for the second term of the year before the latest surge in Covid-19 infections.
This is the second time Government has deferred the reopening of schools this year. In January, Government postponed the reopening after a spike in infections following the festive season where members of the public let down their guard.
Districts now under localised lockdown include Nkulumane, Emakhandeni and northern suburbs.
Suburbs covered by the Nkulumane clinical district include Nkulumane, Pelandaba, Sizinda, Nketa, Emganwini and Barham Green.
Emakhandeni clinical district covers Cowdray Park, Njube, Luveve, Magwegwe suburbs, Pumula suburbs and Emakhandeni. The northern suburbs include Mpopoma, Mzilikazi, Nguboyenja, Makokoba and the city centre.
Complacency has been blamed for the latest surge in new infections and 95 percent of the cases are due to local transmissions.
Speaking during a post Cabinet media briefing yesterday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said Government will determine whether it will be safe to reopen schools at the end of the two weeks.
“In view of the regional and local upsurge of cases, the nation is informed that Cabinet approved that the reopening of schools and other learning institutions be delayed by 14 days. Government will be monitoring the situation and a review would be made after two weeks,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
She said localised lockdowns are being enforced in areas declared Covid-19 hotspots.
“Cabinet further approved the localised lockdown in the following hotspot areas: – in Mashonaland West Karoi; Makonde; Chinhoyi; Mhangura; Chidamwoyo; Magunje; Chirundu; in Bulawayo Nkulumane; Emakhandeni and Northern Surburbs in Mashonaland Central Mount Darwin and in Masvingo, Chiredzi,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
“The nation is informed that there would be a joint security blitz to enforce the recently promulgated Covid-19 prevention and control measures, especially in the designated hot spots. Furthermore, border security and surveillance at ports of entry is being strengthened.”
She said Cabinet has also directed the Vehicle Inspection Department (VID) and police to increase surveillance to enforce compliance with Covid-19 regulations for Zupco intercity and intra-urban services.
Minister Mutsvangwa said the country is still on course with its Covid-19 vaccine procurement as more doses will be delivered on Saturday.
“On procurement of Covid-19 vaccines, Cabinet is pleased to report that arrangements are currently in progress to procure 2 million doses of Sinovac vaccines from China. These are expected in the country by end of month. Furthermore, 500 000 doses of vaccines are expected to be delivered this Saturday 26th June, 2021,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
The Minister said Bulawayo’s Renkini Bus Terminus, Hwange Town, tobacco auction floors, Grain Marketing Board employees, border points and Mbare Musika among other areas have been identified as targets for Covid-19 vaccination in the next phase of the blitz programme.
She said Government has also strengthened measures to manage Covid-19 cases at community levels where patients would not necessarily need hospitalisation.
“The following measures are being implemented to lower the case fatality rate; strengthening of critical care in admitting facilities (HDU/ICU); ensuring oxygen availability in admitting centres; ensuring availability of critical care equipment; and cascading critical care training,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
“Furthermore, measures are being put in place to guarantee the availability of essential services through Telemedicine, integrated outreach, and equipping existing treatment centres with monitoring equipment, medications, PPEs. In addition, Cabinet agreed that Home Based Care will be strengthened by accelerating the introduction of the concept of a Virtual Hospital (Home Based Care).”[email protected]