Thursday 20 May 2021


ZIMBABWEANS should not panic over the new India Covid-19 variant which has been detected in the country as long as they adhere to recommended World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines implemented by the Government to prevent the spread of the deadly pandemic.

These include the thorough washing of hands with soap and running water, correct wearing of masks and practicing social distancing, which the Government imposed last year when the first case of Covid-19 was recorded.

According to WHO, a variant can be labelled as of concern if it has been shown to be more contagious and more deadly.

Experts have said the prevention and transmission of the Indian variant is still similar to other Covid-19 strains hence the need for people to continue adhering to advice to avoid getting the deadly Indian variant.

On Tuesday, the Government announced that the Covid-19 variant, which India is grappling with, has reached Zimbabwe and travellers from that country will now be mandatorily quarantined upon arrival.

The Vice-President, who is also the Health and Child Care Minister, Dr Constantino Chiwenga said those entering Zimbabwe would be further tested even if they present Covid-19 travelling certificates.

He urged members of the public to stick to Covid-19 prevention measures which include social distancing at all times, proper wearing of face masks, regular washing of hands and avoiding unnecessary travelling.

Vice-President Chiwenga urged citizens to also take advantage of the Covid-19 vaccination exercise being rolled out by Government.

WHO has said it is reclassifying the highly contagious triple-mutant Covid-19 variant spreading in India as a variant of concern, indicating that it’s become a global health threat.

As at 19 May 2021, Zimbabwe had 38 612 confirmed cases, including 36 416 recoveries and 1 583 deaths.

On Wednesday, a total of 605 556 people had received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine while 239 128 had received their 2nd dose.

Bulawayo director of health services Dr Edwin Sibanda yesterday said there was no need for panic as long as people adhered to what they have been previously taught.

He said adherence to prevention measures is what will save communities from contracting the deadly variant.

“We are not panicking because the means of transmission and prevention are still the same hence there is need for us to continue adhering to what we have been advised to be safe. The variant may not be the same but prevention methods are still the same just like the other variants that we have experienced in the past,” said Dr Sibanda.

“As a city we will continue warning residents against defying WHO guidelines and we will sanitise our public spaces when necessary, with the understanding that we are only safe if we wear masks, wash hands and sanitise.”

Renowned health expert Professor Solwayo Ngwenya said the presence of the Indian variant is a game changer for Zimbabweans who for the longest time have defied Government recommendations.

He said even those who have been vaccinated are equally at risk hence the need to practice social distancing, wear masks and wash hands.

“We are really facing a critical moment as a country as the variant has finally made its way into Zimbabwe.

“It is a double mutated variant of the original variant found in China in 2019 and unfortunately this one is more deadly and infectious,” said Prof Ngwenya.

“Now it is dangerous because it has been allowed to change its structure and its highly transmissible which means we all have to unite as a country and ensure it does not spread.”

Prof Ngwenya said Zimbabweans must change their ways now to escape scenes of death and pandemonium which are all over India now.

He also called on the Government to consider enforcing strict measures on super spreaders like funerals, schools, parties and churches.

“We should never allow ourselves to get there as we will be overwhelmed once this variant strikes in our communities. We have to change how we have been treating Covid-19. It’s real and can be deadly if we continue being complacent,” he said.

Prof Ngwenya bemoaned the fact that unlike in the past months people were no longer wearing masks.

“People are no longer wearing masks and that is dangerous and a fertile ground for the variant to spread. This variant came at a wrong time because we have super spreader events, it’s winter and we have defiant members of the public who still go against the Government oblivious of the fact that they may be wiped out within a few days,” he warned.

“Our Government should watch and then consider shutting down the country if people continue defying the recommended guidelines.”

In a statement yesterday, the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe called on members of the public to desist from defying measures to stop the spread which remains a threat for all.

“Our monitoring reports continue to indicate that communities continuously disregard the use of masks and other preventative measures.

This has been increased in markets, economic activity areas and public transport transit points where citizens continue to move around without observing physical distancing, improperly wearing masks, with noses exposed and, in some instances, outrightly wearing masks on their chins,” read the statement.

The coalition urged communities to adhere to proper use of masks and overcome “Covid-19 fatigue” as the cold season approaches and ensure strict compliance with the public health guidelines. Chronicle


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