Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
THE Government is targeting to vaccinate about 200 000 people across the country’s border towns under the ongoing Covid-19 vaccination programme with a strong surveillance system having been put in place to contain the further spread of the disease in schools.
As at Saturday, a total of 276 095 people had been vaccinated against Covid-19 while the country’s confirmed cases stood at 37 699, including 35 005 recoveries and 1 552 deaths. The national recovery rate stands at 92,9 percent.
Border posts vaccination campaigns will see the Ministry of Health and Child Care vaccinating a target of 197 828 people. This population excludes Victoria Falls where 26 000 people were vaccinated.
President Mnangagwa last month launched the second phase of the national vaccination programme in Victoria Falls during which he also took his first shot of the Sinovac vaccine.
Launched on February 18, the first phase of the campaign targeted some 60 000 healthcare and other front-line workers.
In a statement, Vice-President and Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr Constantino Chiwenga said all residents of border towns are going to be prioritised for vaccination.
“At this point, we would also want to inform the public that with immediate effect all residents of border towns are going to be prioritised for vaccination. Successful border posts vaccination campaigns will see the Ministry of Health and Child Care vaccinating a target of 197 828 people,” he said.
“These towns include Beitbridge, Kariba, Mutare, Plumtree, Chirundu and Nyamapanda. This population excludes Victoria Falls (26 000 people) population which was vaccinated.”
In Beitbridge, the programme is targeting 26 000 people, 25 000 in Plumtree and 2 057 in Chirundu. A total of 15 000 people is set to be vaccinated in Kariba while in Mutare and Nyamapanda 126 531 and 3 240 people respectively have been targeted.
Zimbabwe closed its borders to general human traffic in January as part of measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 following a spike in cases.
VP Chiwenga said due to the strong surveillance system that was put in place following school outbreaks that were first experienced last year, his ministry has managed to contain cases recently reported in some schools.
Schools in Matabeleland region such as Sacred Heart in Umzingwane District, Girls College and Mzilikazi Primary School in Bulawayo are among those hit by the latest outbreak.
“The Ministry of Health and Child Care would like to reassure the public and parents of the infected and affected learners that these outbreaks are under control and that measures have been put in place to curb further spread of the disease. All the affected school children and teachers have mild disease and are expected to recover soon,” he said.
Measures that Government has put in place to avoid further spread of the virus include testing all pupils and staff in the affected schools to ensure all cases are identified early, treatment and isolation of those infected and contact tracing.
Contacts are being quarantined and closely monitored and vaccination of at-risk populations surrounding the schools is ongoing.
VP Chiwenga said health education and engagement of surrounding communities is also on-going.
“Training of Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education staff on how to prevent and manage outbreaks in learning institutions is also on-going. Distribution of sanitisers and face masks is being done in the affected communities,” he said.
Following up on the last Covid-19 lockdown regulations, VP Chiwenga said Government had indicated that schools which break Covid-19 regulations will be shut down.
“The Government will not hesitate to act upon these measures. Government will implement targeted lockdowns for schools that do not follow the Covid-19 regulations,” he said.
“Once again, the strong Covid-19 surveillance system that the Government has put in place in schools has enabled the Ministry of Health and Child Care to detect outbreaks early and control them in a timely fashion and hence prevent the spread of Covid-19 to surrounding communities.” — @mashnets.