Existing lockdown and public health regulations are being more strictly enforced, with hundreds of arrests already made this week, while emergency funds are being spent at needy schools to further upgrade sanitation to control any spike in Covid-19 infections.
While no new measures have yet been introduced, the Government made it clear yesterday that all the regulations already in place had to be followed and enforced to prevent any further rise in infection rates and that the complacency seen growing recently had to be resisted.
Since March, Zimbabwe has recorded 9 398 Covid-19 positive cases, but 8 297 recovered while 274 died.
Yesterday alone, 90 new cases were recorded, all of them being local transmissions, and one death.
Speaking after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu said Cabinet was concerned over the recent increase in Covid-19 cases and wanted better enforcement of existing rules.
“The enforcement of lockdown measures will be intensified henceforth. It should be emphasised that where there is non-compliance to these regulations, the law enforcement agencies will not hesitate to enforce the penalties prescribed,” said Minister Ndlovu.
“Cabinet reiterates that the lockdown and curfew measures previously announced are still subsisting.”
While most of the economy has been reopened in phases, subject to rules involving masking, scanning of temperatures, sanitising hands and social distancing, the curfew is still in place for non-essential workers between 10pm and 6am and public bars, night clubs, beerhalls, casinos, betting shops and theatres are still not permitted to operate.
Weddings are still limited to 50 people and church services to 100 people.
Cabinet was assured that Natpharm and private companies had adequate stocks for the prevention, treatment and supportive management of Covid-19 and that the testing and tracing of contacts of infected people would continue.
Minister Ndlovu said not all children were back at school but adequate measures had been put in place to ensure there would no spike in infections.
“Cabinet notes that a number of Covid-19 positive cases were reported at learning institutions following the full re-opening of schools. The nation is advised that measures have been put in place to strengthen protective and preventative measures in boarding school environments.”
The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, with technical support from the Ministry of Health and Child Care, was working on minimising the risk of infections in boarding schools with authorities reviewing the carrying capacity of hostels, inspection of boarding facilities and training of hostel matrons, boarding staff andkitchen staff.
“In order to guarantee fresh water to schools in need, Cabinet reports that $150 million was released to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education for the drilling of boreholes.”
Police road blocks lifted recently are now returning and there are reports that hundreds of people have had to pay fines this week for not wearing masks. But National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi yesterday said police were still compiling figures of the number of people arrested this week for failure to comply with lockdown regulations.
There have been in recent weeks reports that complacency has been creeping into society, with a lot of people disregarding mitigatory measures after the World Health Organisation commended Government for the way it has handled the pandemic so far.
The measures taken by Zimbabwe were proved effective by the 26 percent drop in total deaths in the first eight months of this year compared to the same eight months last year, as the public health measures to combat Covid-19 worked on a lot of other infections and diseases.
Health and Child Care Minister Vice President Constantino Chiwenga has already warned that the early successes in the fight against Covid-19 should not be mistaken for a total victory against the global pandemic.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care Dr John Mangwiro said the best medicine was prevention and implored continuous adherence to regulations.
“If you check internationally, the Covid-19 virus is raging like a veld fire. Our cases are surging so that is the reason we are stressing that people should continue the proper wearing of face masks and adherence to protocols.
“As Government, we are increasing our testing and upscaling contact tracing. We will make sure that people are aware of the threat of the pandemic,” said Dr Mangwiro.