Saturday, 4 July 2020

73 NEW COVID-19 CASES, ONE MORE DEATH


ZIMBABWE needs to strengthen and refocus on the measures the country adopted at the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown in March if it is to avert a local transmission crisis, a senior Government official has said.

In an interview yesterday, Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care Dr John Mangwiro urged citizens to remain alert, continue practising good hygiene and social distancing, as the country is set to experience a spike in local transmissions. These have been on the rise lately. By yesterday, Zimbabwe’s Covid-19 confirmed cases had risen to 698, with 107 cases attributed to local transmissions, something that has seen authorities raising alarm.

From the tests done yesterday, 73 cases were confirmed positive with 55 being returnees from South Africa, Botswana (three), Mozambique (three), United States of America (two), Australia (one), Zambia (one) and local transmissions (eight). The Ministry of Health and Child Care also reported the death of one Covid-19 positive woman, aged 21, from Harare, bringing the number of deaths due to the pandemic to eight in the country.

According to Dr Agnes Mahomva, the Chief Co-ordinator of the National Response to the Covid-19 pandemic, of the 99 local cases (recorded by Friday), 77 are directly linked to returnees while 22 are a result of community transmissions. This has been attributed to the relaxation of lockdown measures and the increased mingling of locals and returnees over the past few weeks. Issues of sanitation and hygiene, and the fact that the country is currently in the influenza season, have also been highlighted. 

Said Dr Mangwiro: “The upsurge is a sign that people are mixing up so we are saying let us stay at home where necessary and continue practising hygiene, social distancing and correctly wearing face masks.

“For those that are coming from outside, they should adhere to quarantine measures and not mix with others before they are tested. This is a sign that we need to restrengthen and refocus on the measures that we had in the beginning.”

However, he was quick to say that presently there were no discussions of reverting back to strict lockdown measures.

“These issues need to be balanced, the economy and Covid-19, so we are saying at individual levels one must make it a priority to make sure they are protected and they protect their loved ones,” he said. 

Zimbabwe is under Level 2 lockdown, where both formal and informal businesses have reopened. Restaurants have also been allowed to serve sit-in customers.

Epidemiologist, Dr Portia Manangazira, also said surge in transmission was expected due to water and sanitation infrastructure which is inadequate, as well as returnees.

“We were saved by the lockdown and this helped by keeping the number of transmissions low. However, we are noticing that water, sanitation and hygiene issues which were not up to scratch have become a major challenge and have contributed to the spike of local transmissions. There is also the issue of returnees in quarantine centres. Some returnees are not adhering to quarantine regulations and want to be reunited with their families that moment they came back into the country. Our treatment centres are also overwhelmed so all this can contribute to local transmissions. The rise in local transmission has also coincided with the influenza season. So we are expecting an increase — that is the reason why we need all hands to be on the deck.” Sunday Mail

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