Covid-19 Update Address to the nation by His Excellency the President, Cde E. D. Mnangagwa
I address you yet again against a background of an even grimmer picture of the world today.
The Covid-19 pandemic is nowhere close to loosening its grip on humanity.
Globally, confirmed infections have now reached the 1 million mark. Recorded deaths from the pandemic are more than 52 000, with more still dying throughout the world.
These galloping global figures may mean that the risk to our nation is rising and growing enormous by the day. Our infections stand at nine, with one fatality recorded so far.
The measures we have taken remain in place and appear to be paying off. However, the approaching winter season brings with it greater vulnerabilities.
We cannot afford to be deceived by the small number of infections, but we must continue to scale up our preparations.
We are not out of the woods.
Only last week, I directed a total lockdown of our society for a duration of 21 days. As your President, I am proud of the way most of you have responded to the lockdown.
Except where absolutely necessary, you have stayed at home, together with your families. You have observed and voluntarily enforced social distance and religiously followed routines of basic hygiene, as recommended by the World Health Organisation. Social interactions have either stopped or drastically reduced. We are on the right path.
The deployment of security arms has largely been symbolic, with you our citizens heeding the call, taking the lead and showing the way in the fight against this pandemic. Well done Zimbabwe and keep it up.
However, this should not induce complacency among us, but instead motivate us to do even more now and in the weeks and months ahead.
A lot more will be expected from us. Let us all err on the side of abundant caution. In self-discipline is our safety and collective security as a nation.
My fellow countrymen and women,
Government continues to make substantial strides in enhancing national preparedness against the pandemic.
The Cabinet Taskforce is operating full throttle, and is now led by the Honourable Vice President Comrade Kembo Mohadi. More and better information is flowing regularly to you, our attentive citizens.
In our hospitals, isolation centres have been established and additional health facilities identified.
Meanwhile, more tests are being conducted. The number of hospital beds devoted to patients continue to increase, in readiness for a possible upsurge.
Above all, we have now begun decentralising operations to encompass our entire territory, given the mass movements of our people back to our rural areas.
Additionally, more and more Zimbabweans are self-repatriating home from different countries and parts of the world.
Our bio-surveillance and contact tracking system against both imported cases and likely in-country infection are being improved.
We are operating in a “whole-country-emergency-mode”, with each and every one of us having a role to play.
Elsewhere, the pandemic has shown the potential risks to the health service personnel, who are in the front line.
They need protective gear which is adequate and effective against infection.
They must feel safe, secure, and sure, to care for us, with confidence. Government shall, therefore, continue to priorities their health and safety by ensuring that every health worker is appropriately knitted.
Severe cases of Covid-19 put a strain on the stock of ventilators any country has, and on existing oxygen supply chain.
In this regard, we are attending to both and it is pleasing that China has increased the production of ventilators.
Let me pay tribute to our business community, some of whom I met this morning, for supporting initiatives meant to strengthen our overall national response to Covid-19.
I, equally, applaud researchers, inventors and developers from our universities and technical colleges who continue to work on various materials needed by our hospitals, clinics and the nation at large, in the fight against Covid-19.
This pandemic has indeed triggered flashes of unprecedented national creativity and inventiveness.
Our high literacy levels must now be turned to tangible practical research, developments and inventions.
Institutions of higher Learning will have the full support of my Government.
Our heath delivery system must scale to new heights, buttressed by supporting industries.
This must be a turning point which will see our country emerge from this misfortune, secure and self-sufficient through import substitution with new industries in the medical sector and associated exports.
To this end, Government is ready to support and facilitate the establishment of a medical, industrial/technological complex.
Ahead of the lockdown, many of us self-repatriated to our rural homes. This was undoubtedly brought about by a realisation that our rural homes are safe havens in times of disasters and pandemics.
They are an integral part of our national safety and security response. As such, we now have to re-imagine our rural infrastructure, rural housing and other social amenities within the broader context of national development.
Our cities and towns must also be revamped and re-envisioned.
Apart from the focus on the pandemic itself, it is integral that we keep our economy moving forward during this period of lockdown. Food supply must be guarantee, with minimum shocks or disruption. Farmers must continue to produce for our nation, even under conditions of lockdown.
Farmers and traders alike must equally continue to deliver produce to markets that supply our cities, towns and growth points.
To that end, I direct our Security Arms to ensure pathway of food supply. All agriculture activity must remain undisturbed throughout the period of the lockdown.
All our producers must continue to feed our Nation with minimum hustles.
Equally, all veterinary outlets and services must continue to run as we fend off diseases against our livestock.
Our outlets and field teams working on projects meant to climate proof our agriculture, and towards impending harvests, as well as winter wheat programmes, must be facilitated. Going forward, Government and the business sector must work together to ensure we minimise the likelihood of shocks and lessen the magnitude of an economic downturn as a result of this pandemic.
The wheels of industry must keep turning, albeit at a slower pace for the sake of our survival. Government has therefore largely left it to our business sector to determine how best to respond to the Covid-19 menace, but within health and safety parameters set by our health experts.
Adequate measures must be put in place to protect our workforce.
I am pleased that some businesses have risen to the challenge, with many enterprises reducing their manning levels and where possible, encouraging sections of their workforce to operate from home.
In addition, some are organising safe transport to and from work; fortifying the immunities of their workforce through the provision of vitamin supplements, and ensuring safe social distance at the workplaces.
All these initiatives are applauded.
On its part, Government has put in place immediate fiscal and monetary measures and interventions to protect our economy; while the 2020 National Budget will be revised and re-prioritised to ensure adequate fiscal buffers in the wake of the ravaging threat.
Equally, we are aware that the lockdown comes at great cost to livelihoods of our highly informalized economy.
We have therefore, committed to provide social safety nets to ensure that vulnerable households are sustained during this challenging period.
In conclusion, let me commend you all for your determination and sacrifice during this lockdown. We must trade-in personal comforts and liberties in order to stay alive. Let us continue to pray as we persevere to protect ourselves, families, communities and in our nation as a whole.
God bless you all and good day.
I thank you.