BY RICHARD MUPONDE/VANESSA GONYE
HEALTH experts yesterday urged government to increase COVID-19 vaccination centres after the country last week recorded new highs in infections and deaths from the virus.
The southern African country has been hard hit by the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, being driven by the now dominant Delta strain first detected in India and the Beta variant (South Africa).
It recorded 55 deaths on Friday and 42 fatalities on Saturday, July 10 to bring the total to 2 126.
It also recorded 1 787 new cases on Saturday, bringing the total number of infections to 66 853.
Community Working Group on Health executive director Itai Rusike said the country was still far from winning the war against the pandemic.
“This time, the pandemic is hurting everyone, it’s not this distant thing happening to somebody else, it’s every family, and everybody is affected, hence the long queues at vaccination centres as people are now more scared of getting infected with coronavirus, unlike during the first phase of the vaccination roll-out programme when there was so much vaccine hesitancy and scepticism,” Rusike said.
Medical and Dental Private Practitioners Association of Zimbabwe president Johanes Marisa said a lot of people were sick and yet they were not being tested for the virus.
“If you look at the general consultations that we are doing, you find that at least 50% of those that we see have some symptoms of COVID-19. We are still far, I don’t think we will flatten the curve now,” he said.
“We should guard against defiance. In the meantime, we encourage those that have access to vaccines to be vaccinated because if you fail to get vaccinated, one day it will probably backfire.”
Health deputy minister John Mangwiro said government had intensified the COVID-19 vaccination programme by increasing the inoculation centres throughout the country.
“We have introduced mobile vaccination centres to cater for the increased number of people who are thronging vaccination centres,” he said.
Meanwhile, funeral parlours said they were on high alert as COVID-19 deaths increased due to the third wave.
Doves Holdings spokesperson Innocent Tshuma said he could not give figures of COVID-19 deaths that they were handling per day, but said they were managing.
During the second wave that stretched from December last year to mid-February this year, death cases from COVID-19 shot to over 70 at one point, with funeral parlours admitting to being overwhelmed as a result.
“From the onset of the pandemic, we made contingency plans to combat any escalation of deaths caused by COVID-19 as guided by World Health Organisation protocols,” Tshuma said.