Local authorities, working with the Ministry of Health and Child Care and law enforcement agencies, need to be out on the streets conducting public awareness campaigns on the dangers of mass gatherings.
It was heartening to see at the weekend that some churches were quick to respond to calls to limit congregations as part of measures to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).
It is helpful that the Government has declared a State of National Disaster over the coronavirus, resulting in the postponement of this year’s
Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) and next month’s Independence celebrations.
The Government has also ordered the closure of schools, colleges and universities, effective today and that others have not had to wait, but instead have gone ahead and done so at the earliest possible convenience.
Prevention is better than cure as in this case there is no known cure once it has established itself in a person.
Of concern, however, is that some apostolic sects continue to mass gather their members in defiance of advice in the face of Covid-19.
The leadership of such religious groups are encouraging the practice in blissful ignorance of the cost of their actions to the lives of members of their churches.
Coronavirus has devastated countries like Italy, Iran, Spain and France.
Zimbabwe should be thankful that as at the weekend it had recorded two confirmed cases so far.
But the country needs to demonstrate that it has had five weeks of observing the human casualties Covid -19 has claimed in those countries and that it has picked up some vital life-saving lessons.
One of the advice dispensed so far is that people should stay away from flea markets and bales of imported clothing.
Authorities need to be on the ground at such places as Mupedzanhamo, Copacabana and Coca Cola corner, at bus terminuses such as Mbare Musika, Roadport, Renkini, Sakubva — throughout the country and any other places where there is potential for people to gather.
They can then highlight and advise on the risks of exposing themselves, their families and anyone they come into close contact with.
The death toll in Italy from the virus must be a wake-up call for the country to prepare itself fully and minimise further damage from Covid-19.
The rate and scale of infection in the case of Italy has risen to nearly 60 000 (59 138 as at lunch time yesterday) since February 15, 2020.
There are 6 557 new cases being reported daily in Italy as at Friday while the death toll is inching towards the 5 500 mark.
The number of dead people Italy and Iran have buried since the onset of coronavirus shows how overwhelmed the countries have been.
That has been the major cause for concern for other countries because of fear their health services will be overstretched.
Zimbabwe can learn from cases of countries that have been worst-affected by the virus and determine the preventative measures it needs to put in place.
Avoiding gatherings is one of the least expensive methods of countering coronavirus.
So all local authorities must take the lead and be on the streets, at bus terminuses, shopping malls and open markets, advising the public on how to protect themselves.
At company level, organisations need to intensify their efforts to scale up knowledge about how to combat the virus and stay safe.
What is frightening is that a survey of the Harare central business district shows a business-as-usual-attitude.
It is possible this is the same scenario nationwide.
This simply cannot be acceptable.
Local authorities and the Ministry of Health and Child Care should be out with loud-speakers visiting public places and all suburbs throughout the country alerting the public in addition to campaigns — available in the media and all other effective platforms.
While the virus threatens to become the major health challenge to confront Africa, the choices made now will determine how many of the continent’s population will survive or succumb to the pandemic.