‘Govt ready with new Covid-19 measures’
Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has said Government is monitoring the situation and is ready to timeously implement new measures in the face of rising Covid-19 cases attributed to a new variant, Omnicron.
The world is battling the new variant described as a variant of concern by the World Health Organisation (WHO) due to its high infection rate.
Omicron has a high number of mutations in its spike protein, and preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection, when compared with other variants of concern.
Zimbabwe has over the last two weeks seen a 472 percent surge in new Covid-19 cases, with 28 904 of those being recorded last week alone, compared to the 5 055 cases the week before.
The last genomic sequencing has linked all the cases to the highly transmissible new Omicron variant.
As of Wednesday, the country’s cumulative Covid-19 cases stood at 182 057 with 130 920 recoveries and 4 759 deaths.
The recovery rate was 72 percent with 46 378 active cases having been recorded.
The number of new cases increased during the week under review, with 28 904 cases recorded compared to 5 055 cases the previous week.
An average of 4 014 new cases were reported per day compared to 723 cases the previous week.
However, the case fatality rate has gone down to 2,9 percent during the week under review from 3,4 percent the previous week.
Prevention measures being implemented such as vaccination continue to contribute to the reduction in the severe impact of the virus.
On Tuesday, President Mnangagwa extended the Covid-19 Level Two national lockdown by a further two weeks, citing the rapid rise in infections driven by the new Omicron variant.
He also moderately tightened the lockdown by scaling down Government activities, enforcing masks for all private and public commuters and asking businesses to implement earlier festive season shutdowns than usual.
Officially launching the Presidential Rural Development Programme at Jinjika Village, Makorokoro area of Mangwe District, Matabeleland South on Wednesday, President Mnangagwa urged Zimbabweans to remain vigilant following the recent spike in Covid-19 cases.
He said Government is ready to implement new measures if there is a heightened threat of Covid-19.
“I urge us all to remain vigilant following the recent resurgence and spikes of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Let us not panic, my Government is monitoring the situation and stands ready to make timely decisions,” he said.
The President said those eligible for Covid-19 vaccination, including the booster shot, should be vaccinated.
“I urge those who are yet to receive their vaccine doses to get vaccinated.
We can only be safe until everyone is safe.
Please get vaccinated, you won’t die as this is actually a form of protection from the virus.”
President Mnangagwa said despite illegal sanctions imposed on the country by Western countries, Government is stepping up efforts in the fight against Covid-19.
“Because Zimbabwe is under sanctions, my Government sat down and said we are on our own and let us fight and mitigate against Covid-19.
So have now bought enough vaccines for the whole country. Even if you want a third booster go and get vaccinated because we have plenty of vaccines,” he said.
He also urged the public to continue adhering to all the recommended public health preventive measures, such as wearing face masks properly, avoiding closed spaces, avoiding crowded gatherings, washing of hands with soap and running water, sanitising and social distancing.
In extending the current lockdown, Government scaled down all Government activities to 30 percent, except for essential services and suspended all face-to-face meetings at all its departments.
The remaining end of year planning and other such critical Government meetings will be held virtually in an effort to contain the fourth wave.
As part of the Covid-19 lockdown measures, commuters are supposed to wear face masks in both public and private transport settings.
Hotels and lodges should provide room services to their clients, as opposed to gathering in restaurants and bars without face masks.
President Mnangagwa also urged businesses that are subject to annual shutdown to close early for the festive season, at least by Unity Day on December 22.
Government has also tightened Covid-19 screening measures at the country’s borders and airports and has called on members of the public to avoid unnecessary festive season travelling as part of measures to curb the spread of the pandemic.
Health experts have expressed concern at the spike in new cases and urged members of the public to avoid unnecessary travel as part of measures to minimise exposure to the pandemic.
In a directive to all Provincial Medical Directors (PMD) dated December 13, Health and Child Care Permanent Secretary Air Commodore(retired) Dr Jasper Chimedza said all provinces should ensure that they enforce the recent law to test travellers upon arrival at entry points and quarantine them. — @mashnets