Pressure mounts on ED to shut down Zim

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Fungi Kwaramba and Caroline Chiimba

THE Zimbabwe Medical Association (Zima) has called for a 14-day lockdown and self-isolation for individuals with a compromised immune system to mitigate the effects of Covid-19.

Zima secretary-general Sacrifice Chirisa said there is need for a minimum 14-day lockdown, adding that it ought to be implemented sooner rather than later.

“We urge the public to take the Covid-19 threat seriously and those with immune-suppression, HIV, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, who have been on Ibuprofen, cardiovascular conditions, and those above the age of 50 are advised to immediately go into self-isolation,” Chirisa said in a statement.

“Health facilities should take precautions in rationalisation of available equipment to Covid-19 response medical facilities like lending key equipment such as ventilators, drip stands and oxygen tanks to designated Covid-19 facilities.

“The profession calls on government to urgently licence local manufacturers to produce these drugs for the local market, and ensure that oxygen is readily available at all designated care centres.”

This comes as the Progressive Doctors Association of Zimbabwe (PDAZ) has called for action from corporates or able individuals to donate what they can to the health sector, including hand sanitisers, liquid soap, face masks (N95), goggles, disposal gowns and latex gloves.

“Our country Zimbabwe is faced with a deadly pandemic of Covid-19, adding to our already strenuous economic wars. If we are to survive this pandemic we need to work together as a nation and gather all the help we can get,” PDAZ said.

Zimbabwe recorded its first coronavirus death following the demise of broadcaster Zororo Makamba on Monday afternoon.

This comes as South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday declared a 21-day shutdown starting tomorrow to fight the spread of coronavirus, which has infected more than 400 people in that country with no fatalities.

Also, opposition parties, labour and business have roundly called for a lockdown to help contain the spread of the deadly virus.

On Monday, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) — the country’s largest labour body — demanded that government imposes a two-week lockdown on the country as part of efforts to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus, threatening to take the route of stayaways if their demands were ignored.

“We have told the government to enforce a lockdown of the country for two weeks and no one should risk going to work specifically considering lack of preparedness the country faces to tackle the virus.

“We implore government to treat our request with the urgency it deserves or else no one will report for work because we are already recording deaths caused by Covid-19. It is necessary for government to follow what other nations are doing and warding off non-essential workers,” ZCTU president Peter Mutasa said.

“We believe this will give us time to understand the disease and come up with better response mechanisms because at the moment, even the healthcare givers who are supposed to handle Covid-19 are not well-equipped,” he added.

Yesterday, MDC leader Nelson Chamisa called on President Emmerson Mnangagwa to completely shut down the nation following the opposition leader’s closure of the MDC headquarters in light of the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus.

This comes as Mnangagwa on Monday closed the country’s borders and banned all recreational activities such as clubbing and sports, but left the door open for businesses in the informal sector to continue.

“Zimbabwe must have a nationwide lockdown to radically and swiftly disrupt the transmission chain of the virus. I am encouraged by … Ramaphosa who has just announced a 21-day lockdown with effect from this Thursday (tomorrow) accompanied with specific measurable economic measures.

“We need to have a radical shift of the police force, of the military, our army in their civilian obligation must be turned into active mode so they begin to do what they know best, we know that we have a very competent military. I will resist temptation to go into politics on this matter. I can’t be pointing fingers; I can’t blame anyone. The fact is that we need do more. Look, people are doing their business as usual and this must stop. National interest must be the common denominator; we must have a Team Zimbabwe working together fighting Covid-19.

“We must press the button of emergency; we need to do more as a country. We need to take extraordinary measures. It is my humble submission that the country must start implementing a systematic lockdown. The systematic lockdown is the best way to control the spread of the disease. We encourage people not to come into the CBD and all populated areas,” said Chamisa.

On the other hand, MDC treasurer-general David Coltart said Mnangagwa should take up measures that will ensure that lives are saved instead of being reactive.

“A lockdown isn’t what Mnangagwa announced on Monday — he is still allowing gatherings of 50 people when Germany has said no more than two can meet. Government is tinkering and dithering, which is only going cost lives. If government won’t act, we must,” said Coltart.

On his part, Independent Norton legislator Temba Mliswa said Mnangagwa should effect a complete shutdown as prevention is the best option for Zimbabwe, which has a weak and wobbly healthcare system.

“My advice to the president is to enforce a lockdown with immediate effect. We’ve witnessed countries with more advanced healthcare systems than our own shambles failing to cope. Those same teargas trucks should be filled with sanitisers to spray the streets and markets.

“Desperate times call for more stringent measures; it’s the way China managed to contain the scourge. The late Zororo’s experience (RIP) served to highlight how exposed we are if we didn’t know already. So, you live from hand to mouth, so you vend, just remember you have to be alive to feel hungry. I witnessed ice-cream vendors in town; for what? Yes, this may seem harsh but so too is Covid-19. Maybe people need to hear and see the harsh reality to act,” said Mliswa.

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