VICE President Dr Constantino Chiwenga yesterday warned of the possibility of the country being hit by a second wave of Covid-19, saying ignorance, denial and wishful thinking could lead to more deaths.
The United States, Britain and other Western countries have started recording a second wave of Covid-19 at a time when the pandemic’s global death toll has surpassed 1,2 million, with 50 million people infected.
Experts fear that second waves of the infection could be more devastating than the first.
VP Chiwenga, who is also the Minister of Health and Child Care, expressed concern that many people were no longer adhering to prevention measures at a time when the world was staring at the threat of a second wave of Covid-19.
The Vice President was speaking in Bulawayo’s Makokoba suburb during the launch of a Covid-19 cycling campaign and health expo organised by Industry and Commerce Deputy Minister Raj Modi.
Twelve cyclists will embark on a six-day Covid-19 sensitisation cycling from Bulawayo today and pass through Gweru, Kwekwe, Kadoma, Chegutu, Harare before completing their journey in Chitungwiza next Friday.
The health expo provided residents with free diabetes tests, blood pressure checks, eye screening and family planning services.
VP Chiwenga said the pandemic had adversely affected socio-economic development and required collective efforts to combat it as it can kill.
“The worrying trend emerging in America and Europe, where a second wave of the pandemic was feared, serves as a warning for African countries and particularly so Zimbabwe, to maintain the prevailing anti-Covid-19 measures,” he said.
VP Chiwenga said while the national taskforce and frontline workers were educating the public on the threats posed by the pandemic, worryingly communities were no longer heeding their calls.
“Despite the manageable casualty toll to date by Zimbabwe, the persistence and progression of the threat require our citizenry to remain alert,” he said. “It is unfortunate though, that some of the people, in their own wisdom, decided to engage a relaxed mode.
“It has become a common feature to catch sight of some of our brothers and sisters disregarding wearing of masks. If they wear them at all, most of them are left sagging like a necklace. Scientists have said the virus targets easily those with a weaker health system, but I say it preys more on ignorance, denial and wishful thinking.
“I have also noticed that some of our citizens no longer respect the observance of the one metre social distancing; let alone the upkeep of hygiene and sanitation by simply washing of our hands with soap and running water and utilisation of sanitisers.”
Vice President Chiwenga acknowledged that the Bulawayo water crisis had become a hindrance in fighting Covid-19 and said Government was doing everything in its power to address the water shortage.
Turning to the campaign by the cyclists, VP Chiwenga said it should serve as a warning to communities that Covid-19 remained a threat which can kill.
He said the health expo was in line with Government’s thrust to provide efficient and effective health care to all citizens at affordable cost.
Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Judith Ncube said residents should follow regulations meant to protect them against Covid-19.
She said communities should not expose themselves to Covid-19 by not wearing masks.
“A lot of people Honourable Vice President only want to put on their masks when they come across police officers,” said Minister Ncube. “When we say people should put on their masks, they should know that it is for their own protection.
“Right now, Bulawayo has been worryingly recording an increase in Covid-19 deaths.
“From October, most of the Covid-19 deaths that were recorded in the country were received in Bulawayo.”
During the event, Deputy Minister Modi donated groceries to Mpilo Central Hospital, United Bulawayo Hospitals, Ingutsheni Central Hospital each worth $250 000 for the institutions’ canteens for frontline workers.
He also donated groceries worth $100 000 for eight institutions that take care of vulnerable citizens, including Emthunzini Wethemba and Ekuphumuleni.
To empower the youth, the Deputy Minister handed over 20 Pepsi push carts for 20 youths as a means of capacitating them to withstand economic shocks through selling Pepsi products.
The event was attended by senior Government officials, residents, cyclists and various health service providers.