Sunday, 22 March 2020

COPS TO ENFORCE SOCIAL DISTANCING


POLICE will be conducting patrols and spot checks to enforce the Covid-19-induced ban on large gatherings as Government deliberates on measures to encourage social distancing.

To stop the spread of coronavirus, officials are encouraging the public to practice social distancing — staying home, avoiding crowds, keeping two metres apart during gatherings and refraining from touching one another.

The country still has two recorded cases of corona virus cases and social distancing, experts say, is the best way to avoid new cases.

President Mnangagwa recently declared Covid-19 a State of National Disaster and postponed major social events including the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF), the 40th Independence Day celebrations, religious and public gatherings of more than 100 people for the next 60 days.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi yesterday said complying with the regulations is meant to protect every citizen from contracting coronavirus.

Yesterday, some members of the country were lobbying for Government to totally ban all public gatherings regardless of size to minimise the risk of the virus spreading in the country.

This was observed after some religious organisations and bars defied Government’s directive that the gathering of 100 and more people be suspended. 

Members of the public said as long as there were no punitive measures for those defying the directive, some citizens will continue to act recklessly.

“From what you are saying, that there are some churches who had 100 or more members for services today. We will conduct investigations and where appropriate the necessary measures will be put up. But what is important is for church leaders and other institutions to comply not for their own interest but the benefit of their members,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.

He said cops are also on high alert to arrest border jumpers as they can also expose the country to unrecorded cases.

Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo said Government is set to evaluate compliance to implemented measures before taking further action.

“This is a decision that needs to be done collectively. It cannot be announced by a single department.

We await, for further discussions that are led by the President. There will be appraisals of what has happened so far. But I thought when the President discouraged the gathering of more than 100 people it was going to be adhered to, because not doing so is very bad,” said the Minister. 

Health and Child Care Ministry Permanent Secretary Dr Agnes Mahomva said her ministry as the technical department in addressing Covid-19, will take up public suggestions.

She said some of the suggestions would be forwarded to Cabinet for possible adoption. “That is what they are thinking and we like those suggestions as they come as wider as they might be. We look at them, we consider them, we give guidance and that technical guidance is taken up. Cabinet looks at it and comes up with final Government decision on what Zimbabwe will do. Again, it speaks to us working collaboratively as a team not the Ministry of Health alone. We are the technical arm of Government when it comes to health and its consolidated looking at other aspects. Those suggestions are very welcome they actually help us craft whatever guidance that is required that is looked at,” she said.

Dr Mahomva said other Government departments have to play their part to ensure that the public complies with directives meant to curb the spread of Covid-19.

“Once something is declared there is division of labour in terms of enforcing the rule of the law in Zimbabwe. So, there are other players who will look at that. We give technical guidance in term of what is needed to be done when it comes to public health disaster like this, as the President declared,” said Dr Mahomva. “We will continue encouraging other ministries that we are working with to also ramp up what they need to do. Working to ensure that we are working in collaboration, supporting each other because it’s a national issue. As long as it’s a national issue, it means the task goes beyond the Ministry of Health and Child Care.”

Two coronavirus cases have been recorded in the country so far with the first patient testing positive in Victoria Falls on Friday and the other in Harare on Saturday.

In the Ministry of Health and Child Care daily update yesterday, Dr Mahomva said the two confirmed Covid-19 patients are recovering in a stable condition.

“As was previously reported, the first case is showing signs of recovery and is being managed under self-isolation at home. The second case continues to be managed under isolation at Wilkins Hospital and is stable,” said Dr Mahomva.

“Seven contacts of the second case have so far been identified and followed up, and the remaining 11 are still being followed-up. Samples have been collected from the seven contacts identified so far and 4 results received so far have tested negative for Covid-19. The Ministry will continue with intensified surveillance to detect any potential cases early and limit further spread of Covid-19.”  Chronicle

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