Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
CABINET has approved that children aged 12 years and above be vaccinated against Covid-19 as the pandemic continues to frustrate learning institutions with 38 schools recording cases since reopening early this month.
Government had shelved the January opening date and maintained tight lockdown regulations in order to mitigate infections spreading in schools.
In the past week, 145 learners tested positive for Covid-19 in 38 schools while 11 staffers have also contracted the virus.
Acting Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Dr Joram Gumbo briefing the media after the second Cabinet meeting of the year yesterday, said following counsel from health experts, Government has resolved to start vaccinating minors aged 12 years of age.
In the past, only those who had reached 16 years of age could be vaccinated.
“Cabinet resolved as follows: that, in view of the science-based guidance from the Paediatric Association of Zimbabwe Special Covid-19 Vaccine Group, Covid-19 vaccination be extended to the 12 to 15 years age group;
“That the Risk Communication Sub-committee should urgently meet with the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) unit of the Ministry of Health and Child Care and begin to prepare and mobilise communities for the March to June national vaccination blitz,” said the minister.
He stated that Ministers of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution and their teams should urgently finalise their updated vaccination strategies and micro plans for the harmonised vaccination blitz in line with the agreed timelines.
Dr Gumbo said the Government will continue enforcing Covid-19 prevention measures coupled with strengthened risk communication on the pandemic.
He said in the past week the country recorded an increase in the number of people being admitted in hospitals with Covid-19 complications.
“Cabinet advises that the number of people in need of hospitalisation for Covid-19 increased, with the country’s bed occupancy rate increasing from 1,3 percent the previous week to 2,1 percent during the week under review,” said Dr Gumbo.
“A total of 54 new admissions were recorded during the week compared to 32 the previous week.”
The minister said Cabinet also approved 340 priority projects to be implemented under the 100-Day Cycle ending in May.
Dr Gumbo, who is the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Monitoring Implementation of Government Programmes in the President’s Office, presented on the project.
“The priority projects should contribute to the advancement of the National Development Strategy 1: 2021-2025, and have an impact on the livelihoods of the citizenry,” he said.
“The distribution of the projects according to NDS1 Thematic Areas is as follows: food and nutrition, nine, infrastructure and utilities, 22, moving the economy up the value chain, and structural transformation, eight, governance,10, environmental protection, climate resilience and natural resource management, four and housing delivery eight.”
Dr Gumbo said five projects have been approved for health and well-being, 11 for human capital development and eight on social protection.
He said that seven devolution projects have also been approved while 17 ventures on image building and International re-engagement have been approved.
In line with economic growth and stability drive, the 10 projects have been approved and 10 others relating to youth, sport and culture while five ventures on digital economy have also been endorsed.
From the total number of projects, 27 will be implemented in Bulawayo, Harare 52, Matabeleland North 36, Mashonaland West 34, Mashonaland East 34, Midlands 33, Manicaland 33, Matabeleland South 32, Mashonaland Central 31 and Masvingo 28.
“Cabinet wishes to advise the nation that some of the projects will be replicated in more than one province or district. 51 percent of the projects will be funded by Government, while 36 percent will be funded by development partners while the remaining 13 percent will be jointly funded by Government and Development Partners,” said Dr Gumbo.
“Government, on the other hand, will continue to use the Executive Electronic Dashboard (EED) and the Whole of Government Performance Management System, as e-planning, e-monitoring and e-reporting tools for expeditious decision-making purposes at all levels.” – @nqotshili.