Government has set aside $7 billion for the heightened fight against Covid-19, with authorities yesterday calling for the tightening of restrictions to control the geographical spread of the virus.
This follows a spike in infections this week when Zimbabwe recorded 1 365 positive cases and 34 deaths on Tuesday alone, amid reports of non-compliance with Covid-19 regulations in many parts of the country.
Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro confirmed receipt of the funds, saying they will partly be used to recruit more personnel and procure equipment to respond to the virus.
“Government has cumulatively availed $7 billion to motivate and employ more health workers, procure testing kits, PPEs (personal protective equipment), sundries, sanitisers and to improve infrastructure.
“Government has procured 156 000 kits for testing and these are being distributed throughout the country,” said Dr Mangwiro.
Harare has recorded the highest number of cases, but the virus is fast spreading throughout the country, which is now at level four of community transmission which translates to 150 per 100 000 population.
More hospital beds across the country have now been allotted to Covid-19 patients and as of yesterday, the health services were still on top of the situation in confronting the virus.
Dr Mangwiro said they were not yet overwhelmed by the situation, citing the example of Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals which has 425 beds allocated for Covid-19 patients of which 68 were taken up by yesterday.
The deputy minister however, bemoaned the reckless behaviour of some people who were contributing to the rapid spread of the disease and emphasised the importance of tightening restrictions.
“The ministry is saddened by the actions of some organisations that held cross-over celebration gigs and beer outlets.
“We applaud other line Ministries, particularly Home Affairs and the Judiciary for expeditiously dealing with violators of Covid-19 regulations.
“We are requesting people to stay at home and a decision to leave home is a life-or-death decision. All of us are now in emergency mode to arrest this pandemic,” said Dr Mangwiro.
There was low activity in the Central Business District (CBD) of Harare mid-day yesterday as the public heeded the Government’s call to stay at home during the Level Four lockdown which runs for the next 30 days.
The security services were deployed on major roads leading into the CBD monitoring the movement of people. Only those with requisite papers were allowed to pass through.
A survey conducted by The Herald around the capital city yesterday revealed that there was a notable decline of public movement in the CBD although some people were observed loitering with some sitting on park benches in Africa Unity Square where they passed time idly.
There was a notable number of people buying groceries at some major supermarkets as people were stocking up food supplies.
The situation was different in areas such as Mbare, Kuwadzana and Budiriro among other areas where it was business as usual
At Magaba Complex in Mbare, it was business as usual with people selling their wares.
Some touts were soliciting for buyers to purchase wares and they were not wearing face masks
There was also no social distancing as required by the Government and World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.
Mbare Musika was also a hive of activity as people were buying vegetables and fruits for their families.
Mrs Chipo Mashoko said she was stocking up vegetables for the lockdown period.
In Kuwadzana 2 shops, imbibers were buying beer using back doors while at Kuwadzana 4, some grocery shop owners were not observing regulations, playing a hide and seek with the security services.
At most hiking spots along major roads which go in and out of Harare, travellers were seen looking for transport to various destination.
Hitchhikers along Simon Mazorodze Road said they wanted to be at their homes before the 6pm curfew.
A Herald journalist on her way to work was denied passage through the checkpoint at the corner of Churchill Road and Liberation Legacy Way (formerly Borrowdale Road) despite producing her Zimbabwe Media Commission identity card.
The misunderstanding was cleared when the company sent a supporting letter after which she was eventually allowed passage.
Acting President Kembo Mohadi and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who is also the Minister of Health and Child Care, announced lockdown regulations under Level Four, which took effect from Tuesday when strict control of people’s movements started with security forces mounting roadblocks and checkpoints countrywide.
The measures are seen as the best way of reining in the spike in infections.
Acting Harare mayor Councillor Stewart Mutizwa yesterday said municipal police would assist authorities in enforcing lockdown regulations.
He particularly warned illegal vendors and unlicensed commuter omnibus operators that the net was closing in on them.
“Council would want to warn vendors and other small to medium enterprises that have defied the Government directive by continuing to operate that the long arm of the law will catch up with them and they should stop forthwith, all their operations.
“Transport operators continue plying certain routes in the city, mainly those that do not pass through the central business district. These routes include Dzivaresekwa-Machipisa, Westgate-Warren Park, Machipisa- Chitungwiza and other local routes in the city. I would like to urge transport operators to stop and consider the health of fellow residents ahead of monetary gains,” said Clr Mutizwa.