Monday, 23 March 2020

CORONAVIRUS : ED FULL STATEMENT


“Fellow Zimbabweans, I am addressing you yet again this evening to give further information on measures, which Government is putting in place to contain the spread of coronavirus.

These measures are also meant to mitigate the impact of the virus on our economy, and on our society in general.
Since my address to you on 17th March, 2020, when we declared Covid-19 a National Disaster, the worldwide spread of this baneful virus has been rapid and surprising.

So far more than 340 000 people have been infected globally; while more than 14 000 people have since died. The world keeps counting both on new infections and fatalities.

It is a grim picture globally.

As already announced, our country has recorded two cases of infection, both of them imported.

Sadly, in one such case — the latest to be announced — the patient has since succumbed and died. 

On behalf of the party, Zanu PF, Government, my family and on my own behalf, I wish to convey my deepest condolences to the family of the late departed on this its saddest loss.

We share in their grief and join them in bereavement.

The sad passing on one of our own, as well as the spiralling infections and deaths worldwide, require that we continue to urgently review our situation with a view to strengthening our defences through additional, more stringent measures.

Like I indicated in my previous address, we might have to limit, suspend or even forego certain social, economic and recreational activities we had grown accustomed to.

The pandemic today challenges all our normal chores, habits and behaviours, and we all now have to adapt a new, unusual social culture.

To keep pace with the fast-changing national and global situation, Government has decided on the following additional measures which take immediate effect: 

Border controls
While our borders remain open to essential traffic, both in the interest of our economy and that of corresponding economies of our region, we have decided to ban inessential travel and traffic, both in-bound or out-bound.

Except for the movement of cargo, Government will close all our borders to human traffic.

This, however, will not affect returning residents.

Screening on essential traffic will continue to be enforced strictly, in line with best practices and guidelines prescribed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

As announced previously, measures on designated border crossings remain in force.

Returning residents

All our returning residents, will be subjected to strict screening procedures, including rigorous enforcement of the 21-day self-quarantine which must not be breached for whatever reason.

Certificates of Covid-19 fitness, especially from countries with high incidence of infections, would greatly assist all of us in controlling the pandemic both inside our country and globally.

Travel within country
Further, from now until further notice, Government discourages unnecessary travel in and around the country.

To the extent possible, families are encouraged to postpone non-essential travel.

Additionally, unnecessary movements beyond homes, including social visits to relatives and friends, should be avoided.

Essential trips should be trimmed to the barest minimum, both by frequency and by numbers involved.

Ban on entertainment and recreational activities

With immediate effect, Government has put a blanket ban on gatherings around night clubs, bars, beerhalls, movie houses, swimming pools, gymnasiums and sporting activities, until further notice. 

I am aware that this curtailment of social activities will be hard on all of us. However, such tough measures have become necessary and unavoidable for our collective safety as a nation.

Hospital visits

With immediate effect, visits to hospitals and clinics will be reduced to one visit per day, even then involving one relative per patient.

Public gatherings
With immediate effect, public gatherings may not exceed 50 persons.

Such gatherings include religious fellowships, worship, weddings, conferences, workshops, meetings and funerals. 

E-Services across sectors

Wherever possible, Government is encouraging automated electronic services in order to minimise human contact and interface.

This is particularly important in dispensing essential services such as banking, payment of utilities and other services for which on-line options are available.

Informal markets
While Government will not, at this stage, close down informal markets, citizens are encouraged to limit their visits to such markets, and in any case to reduce the members involved, as well as frequencies to these markets.

Health personnel, security personnel and other volunteer workers will be deployed in these markets to enhance screening services.

Members of the public are thus urged to assist any such measures and processes.

Mass transit and commuter services

All transport operators are encouraged to comply with public health measures which Government will be announcing shortly, all for the safety of commuters.

These include screening on points of embarkation and occasional de-contamination operations targeting public vehicles and depots.

Contact tracing
Given the high multiplier nature of Covid-19, control and containment measures largely depend on ability to track down and account for all persons who may have come in close contact with an infected person.

Members of the public, and especially families, are required to cooperate with health personnel and law enforcement agencies deployed on such tracing operations.

Possibilities of decongesting workplaces

Business associations of employers are encouraged to explore creative ways of reducing human concentrations at work stations.

Additionally, they are also being encouraged to observe safe social distancing parameters as set out by WHO.

Wherever possible, non e-essential staff, or even essential staff whose services can be efficiently rendered from home, should be encouraged to take turns to work, or to serve from home, respectively.

Corporate responsibilities and responsible pricing

As we go through these extraordinary times for our nation, I would want to appeal to our business community to redouble their commitments towards social responsibilities so we tackle the pandemic together.

More importantly, I appeal to those involved in the manufacturing and trading of materials essential in the fight against coronavirus to resist the temptation of callously feeding fat on the current situation through extortionate pricing.

These materials include protective clothing, masks and sanitisers, among other items.

Any evidence of irresponsible corporate misbehaviour will leave Government with no option, but come down heavily on offenders. We have to behave responsibly in order to protect the public.

I am also aware of concerns, which continue to be raised by our health personnel who are in the frontline of fighting this pandemic.

These great men and women are the heroes and heroines of our nation.

They continue to deliver services at great personal risk; they continue to deliver services at personal great risk, they continue to save lives.

They deserve our support; they deserve our unstinting praise and accolades. They must be rewarded.

Above all, we should make their already risky medical chores both safer and less onerous.

Government continues to procure more items needed by our health personnel in the fight against the pandemic.

To that end, I have directed the release of additional funding towards the procurement of more safety clothing.

Additional support continues to be flown into the country, while more and more centres are being designated and appropriately equipped for purposes of enhancing our overall responsiveness to the pandemic.

Now is the time to show resolve, commitment and sacrifice on the part of us all, so together, we pull through this challenge.

Without doubt, our collective resolve and sense of purpose will beat all odds that this pandemic may place in our way.

We have to make our nation virus-free.
I thank you and a very good evening.

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