The economy and the schools have been able to reopen because almost all Zimbabweans are aware of the dangers of infection and are willing to maintain the basic precautions of masking, practicing social distancing, sanitising and checking temperatures, experts and Government Ministers have stressed.
The introduction and maintenance of such measures has seen around 95 percent of all Zimbabweans who were infected with Covid-19 now recovered and the death rate on recorded positive tests below 3 percent.
But experts and Government Ministers have stressed that the virus is still present in communities and that everyone must maintain their guard.
While not all positive cases would have been caught by tests, since people with no symptoms or very mild sysmptoms do not present themselves for testing, the recovery rates suggest that there have been no spikes in infection and that the main measures of enforcing masks, social distancing, temperature screening and sanitising have diminished risk and infection rates. With almost everyone aware of the dangers and the preventative measures it is possible to reopen carefully the economy and the schools.
On reopening in the economy and resumption of school classes in the midst of the pandemic, the Government says the growing knowledge about Covid-19 among citizens has influenced the decision.
Vice chairman of the Ad-Hoc Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on Covid-19, Professor Amon Murwira, who is also Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Minister, said the phased reopening of the economy was not a sign that Zimbabwe was out of the woods yet.
“As we open up, our assumption is that people have been educated enough to know the dangers of Covid-19, and our assumption therefore is that everybody is taking care,” said Prof Murwira.
“It is about social distancing, sanitisation, masking, temperature checks. More than 98 percent of the people in Zimbabwe know about Covid-19 according to the Ministry of Information.
“Based on this we are confident we will be able to handle ourselves well. But the issue is never to let off the guard. So opening up does not mean the virus is gone, it means we believe we are now equipped well enough to understand what this virus can do and how we can prevent it.”
Following the reopening of schools, the process of testing, contact tracing, isolating as well as the measures being put in place to protect citizens and students, have been explained.
Prof Murwira said the most important thing was to see that the country has been largely successful in fighting the spread of Covid-19, but the success should not make people become careless.
This was corroborated by the Director for Epidemiology and Disease Control in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Portia Manangazira.
She implored the nation to continue adhering to the prescribed protocols as well as discouraging avoidable travels.
“The lockdowns have been lifted and inter-city movement’s okayed, but we need to minimise movement and travel only when it’s really necessary. The relaxation is to allow some critical economic and social activities to resume but the threat of the disease is far from gone without a safe, effective vaccine or a cure,” she said.
Dr Manangazira said the absence of a spike in fresh cases despite some sectors reopening, especially schools, was a sign of adherence.
“We think they are largely adhering as we have not witnessed a surge in cases since the schools opened,” she said.
Zimbabwe Passenger Transport Organisation secretary, Mr Wilfred Chibage, said transporters have been following the prescribed regulations religiously since they started operating.
“We are happy to be back and it is also good for passengers who were being charged exorbitant fares by the illegal transporters, our members are charging fares gazetted by the Government. Now the most important thing is to protect passengers from the virus. We have been following the prescribed regulations religiously and we will continue adhering to these regulations.
“Information we have from the ministry of health is that this virus is still with us and we do not need to lower our guard. But our challenge is the illegal transporters who use private vehicles, and they are not adhering to these protocols so we appeal to all stakeholders that these illegal transporters are stopped,” said Mr Chibage.
He added that they were 99 percent complete in terms of renovations at Mbare Musika.
The rehabilitation includes availing running water to improve sanitation and the fencing of the area.
The Government has also availed $600 million to improve sanitation to needy schools among a number of containment measures being implemented.