BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
CHURCH leaders have been urged to play a leading role in encouraging their followers to adhere to COVID-19 protocols, as well as urge them to get vaccinated against the global pandemic.
This was said during a virtual COVID-19 response workshop on safe funeral management hosted by the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) in partnership with the Health and Child Care ministry.
The country is currently under level four lockdown where all gatherings have been banned except for funerals, which have been limited to 30 people.
Health experts have, however, bemoaned rampant flouting of COVID-19 guidelines at funerals, resulting in a surge in infections. Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa last month said Cabinet had noted that funerals were turning into COVID-19 super spreaders.
Police recently banned night vigils at funerals to help curb the spread of coronavirus.
ZCC secretary-general Kenneth Mtata said church leaders should provide factual information to their followers on vaccines to help government achieve herd immunity.
Government targets to inoculate 60% of the population, which is about 10 million people, to reach herd immunity by October this year.
“Faith leaders are crucial in dispelling myths and misconceptions around COVID-19. Of late, they have been instrumental in ensuring that believers have the right information on vaccines as well as promote uptake of vaccines within the church,” Mtata said.
World Health Organisation team leader Lincoln Charimani said in July, Zimbabwe had one of the highest COVID-19 infection and death rates in Africa.
Health ministry emergency, preparedness and response manager Israel Chabata said low uptake of the vaccine between May and June was a result of short supply of the jabs and not vaccine hesitancy.