Thursday, 28 January 2021

HEALTH EXPERTS : TOUGHER LOCKDOWN NEEDED


HEALTH experts have once again called upon authorities to introduce a much tougher Covid-19 lockdown, including further restricting the movement of people — to curb the spread of the killer disease in the country.

Welcoming the government’s new set of fines for coronavirus violators, the health experts said a much tougher stay-at-home order would help the country to contain the lethal global pandemic.

Speaking in an interview with the Daily News yesterday, the president of the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina), Enock Dongo, said while the new and stiffer fines were welcome, they would not on their own, achieve the desired goals.

“With all due respect, the new fines may not be deterrent enough. As we have seen in the past, huge fines may turn up to be corruption bliss for law enforcers … and so, they may not be the solution.

“For us, a total lockdown of 21 days will be the best thing to do under the circumstances. It then means that whoever has the virus will not spread it to others.

“By the time that lockdown ends, we may then be able to realise a decline in Covid-19 cases,” Dongo told the Daily News.

Mpilo Hospital acting chief executive officer, Solwayo Ngwenya, also said while hefty fines were welcome, the public was likely to find ways to circumvent paying them, as they had done in the past.

“The government is really trying its best to deter offenders, and so increasing fines is a welcome measure.

“However, our people’s attitudes and behaviour towards the pandemic has been extremely appalling,” Ngwenya told the Daily News.

“Each measure is being met with new behavioural changes which I call ‘tsotsi tsotsi behaviour’, like fake Covid-19 certificates.

“I will not be surprised by new behaviours meant to defeat these latest measures. The whole population must change or else we will be facing measures upon measures.

“The last measure will be to enforce a strict and tight lockdown, whereby no one is allowed to move at all because people are not obeying the simple rules that have been put in place to protect them,” Ngwenya further told the Daily News.

On her part, the president of the Senior Hospital Doctors Association (SHDA), Shingai Nyaguse-Chiurunge, said authorities needed to ramp up education and awareness campaigns in communities — as most people appeared to lack “enough knowledge” about the virus.

“Public health measures like wearing masks and physical distancing require self-discipline by the public.

“Therefore, the government should invest more in measures that help people to own the issue and govern themselves.

“We will never have enough police officers to monitor the whole nation. Therefore, the government should invest in informative campaigns that show people why it is important.

“The government should recruit and pay community health workers, especially in urban areas, and also support households that are struggling financially so that people have less need to be up and about,” Nyaguse-Chiurunge told the Daily News.

Under the new fines announced on Monday, those who are caught not wearing a mask or not properly covering their face will be liable to a $5 000 fine — up from the previous $500 which was set in March last year when the government introduced the first hard coronavirus lockdown. Daily News

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