Govt fearful of new corona hit. . .as WHO also warns about deadly second wave in Africa  

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Fungi Kwaramba
CHIEF WRITER
kwarambaf@dailynews.co.zw
©️  THE government yesterday implored Zimbabweans to maintain their discipline and adhere to all coronavirus restrictions, warning that the country could be hit by a second wave of the lethal virus, the Daily News reports.
This comes as the World Health Organisation (WHO) has predicted that the deadly disease could kill an estimated 190 000 Africans in the coming months, in a new infections blitz.
The minister of Health and Child Care, Obadiah Moyo, told the Daily News yesterday that the country remained on high alert as authorities were not ruling out a second wave of coronavirus.
“We are on guard, and we are wary of a second phase of Covid-19. There is a high possibility of a second phase called a recurrence. Should people relax, we could have a second phase of the disease and we should thus continue to be on our guard because there are people who are infected who haven’t recovered yet.
“We must continue wearing masks, maintaining social distancing and high hygiene levels. We cannot relax the current measures now,” Moyo said.
This comes as Zimbabwe is entering the last week of the extended lockdown that was announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently, to allow more testing of people in the country.
It also comes as the government has said it is prioritising the lives of people over the economy, as the country makes an effort to manage the pandemic which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and infected millions others around the world.
As part of the government’s endeavours to tighten the national lockdown, authorities promulgated a new law last weekend which criminalises the non-wearing of face masks in public places.
Statutory Instrument (SI) 99 of 2020 also demands that all workers be temperature-tested and have their hands sanitised before being allowed to board buses.
“Every individual who by this order is permitted to leave his or her home, or to be in any public space, must wear a face mask whether improvised or manufactured, and whether or not of a standard specified in the Public Health (Standards for Personal Protective Apparel, Materials and Equipment) Regulations, published in Statutory Instrument 92 of 2020.
“Any person who fails to comply with an order of an enforcement officer given under this section, or who hinders or obstructs an enforcement officer from having the access referred to in subsection (6) shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level 12 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year, or to both such fine and such imprisonment,” the new law reads.
It also demands that those companies that have been allowed to re-open should have their employees tested for Covid-19 before resuming work.

 

“Before resuming work for the first time during the national lockdown, every person referred to in subsection (1), including employers of the persons referred to in subsection (1), must at the direction of an enforcement officer, submit to screening and testing for the Covid-19 disease, whether by use of the rapid results diagnostic test or other test approved by the minister of Health,” the law says further.
However, Cabinet gave companies a reprieve this week when it temporarily relaxed the requirement to test employees before they re-open, following a huge outcry that was triggered by the initial decree.
Authorities have also been criticised for failing to embark on an expanded programme of testing of people for the virus, to ascertain the prevalence of the lethal disease among local communities.
This comes as Zimbabwe has so far recorded four deaths from the 34 positive cases that have been reported countrywide.
As a result, doctors have warned that it is too early for authorities to start thinking that they have managed to control the spread of coronavirus because of the absence of reported positive cases in the country this week.
Meanwhile, WHO regional director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti also warned this week that although Africa would not witness an exponential spread of the pandemic as has been seen in other continents such as Europe, it would still feel the deadly effects of the virus.
“While Covid-19 likely won’t spread as exponentially in Africa as it has elsewhere in the world, it likely will smoulder in transmission hotspots.
“Covid-19 could become a fixture in our lives for the next several years unless a proactive approach is taken by many governments in the region.
“We need to test, trace, isolate and treat,” Moeti told a WHO Africa Media Leader virtual press conference on Thursday.
According to WHO, the predicted number of cases that would require hospitalisation could also overwhelm the available medical capacity in many countries on the continent.
It also said there would be an estimated 3,6 million to 5,5 million total Covid-19 hospitalisations on the continent, of which between 82 000 and 167 000 would be severe cases requiring oxygen and 52 000 to 107 000 would be critical cases requiring breathing support.
Such numbers of patients in hospitals would, no doubt, severely strain the health capacities of many countries.
A survey of health services on the continent that was undertaken in March — based on self-reports by 47 countries to WHO — had also revealed that there were on average nine intensive care unit beds per one million people, which were woefully inadequate.
Additionally, the physical access to these services to the general population was very low, suggesting that many people would not even have the chance to get to the needed care.
“The importance of promoting effective containment measures is ever more crucial, as sustained and widespread transmission of the virus could severely overwhelm our health systems.
“Curbing a large scale outbreak is far costlier than the ongoing preventive measures governments are undertaking to contain the spread of the virus,” Moeti said further.

 

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