Restrictions not solution to Zim’s Covid-19 woes

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IMPOSITION of the dusk to dawn curfew without righting all the other wrongs and shortcomings within our systems may not produce the desired results of containing the spiking coronavirus (Covid-19) local transmission as well as deaths.

The government will only be fuelling suspicions that the restrictions are also targeted at scoring political goals like dealing with the threat of protests ― as already indicated by some opposition parties and civil society organisations ― over the worsening economic conditions in the country.

Besides their welfare, the issue of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers, as well as other equipment for the care of those in isolation remains paramount and needs to be sorted out urgently.

About 200 health workers have so far tested positive for Covid-19, a worrying trend in which more and more frontline workers are being exposed to the lethal virus as a result of the shortage of PPE. As we write, doctors have given the government a two-week notice of their intention to strike over salaries and working conditions.

Salary talks between the doctors and their employer have broken down as the government has insisted on Zimbabwe dollar-denominated pay against the doctors’ demand for US dollar salaries.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration must do more than impose restrictions when the very basic of provisions have not been ensured.

One of the major problems that have led to the spike in cases involved escapees from quarantine centres, in some cases when the escaped inmates had tested positive, exposing the communities into which they go.

Although more can be done, on a positive note, the president ― in announcing the new measures ― indicated that escaping from quarantine centres will be treated as a criminal offence. However, more should be done.

As people get into quarantine, the security of the facilities and the well-being of the inmates fall squarely on the shoulders of the government. Therefore, it is only because of laxity of security at the centres that inmates escape.

Also, provisions like food, blankets and medication during quarantine must be adequate.
The purpose as well as modalities of their stay at the facilities in terms of testing must be clearly spelt out and followed to the letter, thus removing any motivation on the part of the inmates to escape.

On the whole, putting restrictive measures in place without corresponding attention to the pressing issues in the sector, are not enough.

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