BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
MEDICAL experts have predicted a surge in COVID-19-related deaths during and after the festive season owing to a number of reasons, including general disregard of preventive guidelines by the public.
The country is in the midst of a fourth wave, with confirmed cases topping over
3 000 on a daily basis.
The health professionals raised concern over the lax behaviour by the public and said this might fuel the spread of the virus during the festive season due to increased travel and gatherings.
Situational reports from the Health ministry show that from Thursday last week, the country recorded between two and six deaths daily, but the figures jumped to 14 on Wednesday.
Statistics show that on Wednesday, 4 367 new cases were recorded while the
seven-day rolling average for new cases stood at 4 490.
Medical and Dental Private Practitioners of Zimbabwe Association president Johannes Marisa said misconceptions on the severity of the Omicron variant was contributing to an increase in new infections and deaths.
“We have always warned the public that it is too early to celebrate over low deaths being recorded daily. We were still going to have the fourth wave of the pandemic even when we had not detected the Omicron variant,” he said.
“There is a general misconception that the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is less deadly if mortality is low, especially during the first weeks. This is very misleading.
“The situation in Germany may help us better understand the situation we are in. Mortality was contained at less than 30 people per day in Germany during the first six weeks of the fourth wave. Today in Germany, more than 500 people are losing their lives on a daily basis. We should also brace for more deaths in the coming weeks as we see that cases are rising daily.”
Mpilo Central Hospital acting chief executive officer Solwayo Ngwenya tweeted: “This wave is different from the others. It is characterised by massive infections in the beginning, and lagging deaths. It is just too aggressive, so swift, and its true nature will only be known after it has ended.”
Community Working Group on Health executive director Itai Rusike said: “The general COVID-19 prevention measures should continue to be adhered to including vaccination.
“People still need sustained COVID-19 vaccine literacy and informed community participation in following the WHO recommended guidelines and protocols instead of being afraid of police officers and pretending to be in compliance with the government preventive measures.”
Announcing new COVID-19 regulations on Tuesday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the country had experienced a 472% increase in new cases in a fortnight, with 28 904 new cases having been recorded last week alone compared to the 5 055 the week before.
He said the last genomic sequencing had linked all the cases to the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
Mnangagwa extended the lockdown for a further two weeks and strengthened measures to control the surging cases during the Christmas holidays.