Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
GOVERNMENT has allowed companies to reopen without mandatory Covid-19 testing of employees as stipulated in terms of Statutory Instrument 99 of 2020 and has tightened measures to enforce the ban on importation of second hand clothes.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said this while briefing journalists on the 14th Cabinet meeting decision matrix in Harare last night.
She said companies, will be allowed to open without employees being immediately tested, subject to adhering to other conditions, which include temperature tests and hand sanitisers for workers.
Employees are also supposed to wear a face mask in appropriate form and practice social distancing in the work place.
In the event that an employee has a temperature which is above that which the Ministry of Health and Child Care says requires further testing, then such employee shall not be admitted to the work place, but shall immediately be referred to a facility cleared to conduct rapid result tests.
She said Government resolved to relax the conditions in response to concerns raised by companies which were experiencing difficulties in accessing the rapid result test kits for testing their employees coupled with exorbitant fees charges by private laboratories.
Private laboratories are charging between US$25 and US$65 for both rapid and PCR testing.
Minister Mutsvangwa said Cabinet resolved that that a Covid-19 Command Centre headed by the Civil Protection Unit be established at the Ministry of Health and Child Care Headquarters to direct and coordinate all operations therefrom.
The Command Centre will be a hands-on facility that will report real-time to Vice President Kembo Mohadi who is the chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Task Force on the day to day state of affairs of the Covid-19 response.
“Cabinet also agreed that the services of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) in the logistics of the Covid-19 response be enlisted and that TIBA Zimbabwe conducts research into the strengthening of the Covid-19 response in Zimbabwe,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
Cabinet resolved that the law banning the importation and sale of second-hand clothes usually smuggled through Border Posts such as Mt Selinda and Sango as they pose unprecedented danger of contracting Covid-19 by those who wear them.
Cabinet noted with satisfaction the progress in mass testing evidenced by the increase in the number of Covid-19 tests to 13 329 as at May 4 up from the 6 395 tests reported on April 27.
The country has to date registered 34 Covid-19 confirmed cases, inclusive of five recoveries and four deaths.
Minister Mutsvangwa said the country’s capacity to test is being enhanced by the participation of private laboratories such as PSMI, Lancet, CIMAS and Pathology Laboratories among others.
She said notable progress in the fight against Covid-19 has been registered in the area of research and development through the establishment of a local consortium of researchers drawn from I-am-4-Byo-
Fighting-Covid-19 initiative, the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) and the University of Zimbabwe (UZ).
The study will be funded by the British Government through the National Institute of Health Research.
Minister Mutsvangwa said management of the Covid-19 country-specific research efforts will be done under the Government and Innovation Framework.
“Promising research outputs will progress to the Innovation Hub for refinement, prototyping and legal protection before ultimately moving to the industrial park for commercialisation. Based on the fight against Covid-19, the research programme will be undertaken within five pillars of focus as follows: scientific understanding of corona viruses and Covid-19, biopharmaceutical engineering, clinical understanding of the corona viruses and Covid-19 and biomedical engineering and formulation of National Health Strategy on Covid-19,” she said.
“Our universities are currently working on proposals to carry out research in the different areas highlighted.”
Cabinet also noted with concern the surging in prices of basic goods despite the recently agreed price moratorium by all the stakeholders.