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‘Rural folk must adhere to restrictions’

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By Tamary Chikiwa

A TRADITIONAL chief has urged the government to enforce lockdown regulations in the rural areas as the country fights to flatten the curve in the wake of rising new Covid-19 infections and deaths.
This comes as official figures show that as of January 3, Zimbabwe had recorded 15 265 cases and 380 deaths as the country has slipped into a second wave.

From today, the country has been placed in a hard lockdown with only essential services personnel allowed free movement.

The rest of the citizens will only leave their homes to buy food and medication within a 5km radius. In the previous lockdown last year, people living in rural areas largely ignored the restrictions and went about their daily lives as usual.

Gwanda chief Khulumani Mathema believes, this time around, the government must do more to ensure rural dwellers adhere to the regulations. “Coronavirus is not an elite or urban virus that we might think is confined to urban areas.

“It’s an airborne disease which means it can be found anywhere. “The government and other stakeholders are not putting much effort to enforce regulations in rural areas.

“Remember, the rural populace is the majority in the country and just imagine if there is an outbreak in the rural areas; it means a big chunk of the nation is affected,” he said.

Mathema said despite government’s call for a national lockdown, it’s always business as usual in the countryside, putting people’s lives at risk.

“People live as a village and mostly meet up for different reasons. It’s not their fault because no one is really informing them or is serious about enforcing regulations upon them. “But always remember that there are those who migrate from town to the village, they might pose dangers to those villagers,” bemoaned Mathema.

The Gwanda chief said government and other stakeholders must come up with a communication strategy that reaches out to the rural populace to keep them updated on the pandemic.

“There is an issue of digital divide and not everyone has access to the Internet. “It is government’s mandate to make sure that everyone accesses information about Covid-19 to avoid a spike in numbers, especially in rural areas because sometimes people act out of ignorance,” he said.

Mathema said citizens should be equally treated and be given equal access to information and resources. He said government should also go down to the rural areas and assess the situation and find out if people are adhering to Covid-19 regulations.

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