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Pharmacies to operate normally: Government

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By Tariro Sajeni
sajenit@dailynews.co.zw

PHARMACIES have been given the green light to operate beyond business times set under the current hard Covid-19 lockdown introduced last week, the Daily News reports.
In a bid to slow down rising Covid-19 infections and deaths, the government introduced the new strict regulations that have seen businesses offering essential services operating between 8am and 3pm.

Ordinary citizens can only leave their homes w-hen going to buy food and seeking medical attention while also observing a curfew from 6pm and 6am.

However, there has been confusion and frustration for most patients seeking to buy medicines as most pharmacies were also closing at 3pm. With medical emergencies arising any time of the day, citizens could not access medicines with dispensaries closed, including those that used to offer 24-hour services.

Covid-19 National Taskforce deputy chairperson Amon Murwira told the Daily News yesterday that pharmacies offer essential services and should operate normally.

“People do not plan to get sick, so pharmacies and hospitals can operate as long as they want because we value people’s health. “We know that in hospitals they even take midnight shifts to attend to patients, so pharmacists are allowed to attend to their clients anytime.

“We also know that some people might give excuses of going to the pharmacies; therefore, one needs proof that they are going for medication so that we will not have problems with people who are moving around for other purposes,” Murwira, who is also the Higher and Tertiary Education minister, said.

A snap survey by the Daily News showed that most pharmacies in Harare were closing early, inconveniencing sick people and other clients.

“We would love to work after hours but sometimes it will not help since there will be no people in town because of the curfew but for those in residential areas; working after hours is very necessary,” one pharmacy worker in the central business district told the Daily News.

Another pharmacy worker said they tried to operate beyond the 3pm cut-off time, but were forced to close by law enforcement agents. “Law enforcers must understand the Statutory Instrument governing this lockdown and realise that pharmacies are different from shops.

“They force us to close at 3pm like supermarkets, but people can get sick anytime,” another pharmacist told the Daily News.

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