Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Senior Reporter
AS cases of Covid-19 continue to surge in neighbouring South Africa, Zimbabwe has gone on high alert to guard against potential spread of the virus.
In the past week, the country recorded a 58 percent increase in the number of new cases with an average of 63 new cases being reported daily as compared to 40 during the previous week.
Speaking during a post Cabinet briefing on Wednesday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, said there is a need for the country to exercise caution.
“Cabinet advises that in light of the 58 percent increase in the number of new cases the country recorded during the current week, coupled with a massive increase in the number of cases recorded by our neighbour South Africa in the last seven days, there is a need to protect the country against the negative impact of a surge in cases,” she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa said the country needed to employ cautionary measures, emphasising the need to prioritise the roll-out of Phase two of the vaccination campaign blitz which kicked off on Tuesday.
“Risk communication and community engagement (must) be strengthened with a focus on adherence to all prevention measures and there (must) be strict enforcement of all Covid-19 regulations throughout the country including at the ports of entry,” she said.
South Africa has seen an increase in Covid-19 cases over the last two weeks, but its authorities are still uncertain whether the country is entering the fifth wave.
At the end of last week, 85 percent of all new cases were clustered in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Western Cape provinces.
By Wednesday, the country was reporting more than 3000 new cases per day and now has more than 40 000 active cases.
Zimbabwe’s proximity and interaction with South Africa increase the chances of a corresponding increase in cases, should the surge continue.
With the winter season approaching, there is a possibility of an increase in Covid-19 cases, which could lead to a fifth wave if they are not controlled.
According to experts, vaccination remains the best form of protection against Covid 19, besides proper wearing of face masks, washing of hands, and maintaining social distance.
The second phase of the vaccination blitz is expected to cover more citizens, including children aged 12 years and above.
“Preparations for Phase two of the national vaccination campaign blitz continued during the week. Ministers of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution are strengthening communication on the need for all eligible people, including religious leaders and their followers to get vaccinated,” Minister Mutsvangwa said.
“Remarkable progress has been witnessed since the launch of the campaign a month ago, with over two million vaccine doses already administered.”
Since the launch of the national vaccination campaign in February last year, the cumulative number of vaccinations for first doses had reached 5 872 486 on Wednesday and 3 691 886 for second doses. A total of 611 199 had received the booster shot.
Zimbabwe is targeting to inoculate 70 percent of the total population to achieve herd immunity.
To date, the country has recorded 247 990 positive cases, with 241 861 recoveries and 5 479 deaths.