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Covid-19 is not over yet: President

17 May, 2020 - 00:05 0 Views
Covid-19 is not over yet: President President Mnangagwa address the nation on the covid 19 pandemic at the state house in Harare yesterday. Picture by Innocent Makawa

The Sunday Mail

We publish here the full speech delivered by President Mnangagwa yesterday on additional measures towards enhancing Covid-19 prevention in Zimbabwe.

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Fellow Zimbabweans,

GOVERNMENT notes with satisfaction the continued positive impact of the lockdown measures our country has implemented since March 30, 2020, to date. Initial estimates indicated that by April 29, 2020, Zimbabwe would have about 1000 confirmed Covid-19 cases.

Our country, therefore, undertook an intensive surveillance and case-finding approach. This entailed testing all hospitalised patients for Covid-19, individuals presenting with fever and influenza-like illnesses as well as contact tracing.

Based on the modelling, the country needed to test 33 340 in order to identify the estimated 1000 cases.

However, as at May 15, 2020, 42 confirmed cases have been identified out of the PCR and RDT tests done.

It is noteworthy that the World Health Organisation classifies Covid-19 transmission in Zimbabwe as ‘sporadic’, with one or more cases imported or locally detected.

This may suggest that despite the small numbers tested, our country might have a reduced Covid-19 trajectory.

This reduced trajectory has been observed in other Sub-Saharan countries with similar socio- economic and cultural structures.

In order to maintain this positive momentum and not to lose the gains attained so far, the country needs to ease out of the lockdown in a strategic and gradual manner. The further implementation of our National Preparedness and Response Plan following the initial lockdown, will now focus on a combination of preventative and case management measures that are based on targeted and differentiated approaches.

This will ensure the achievement of high coverage of Covid-19 Public Health Interventions.

We must, thus, continue to minimise the risk of sudden spikes in the number of cases.

To this end, it is imperative that we keep the pandemic curve flat to prevent the loss of life and devastating effects on the socio-economic environment of our country.

To date, the lockdown period has contributed to the fact that:

1) Local transmission of coronavirus has not been widespread in our country. Cases reported to date have mostly been imported or linked to imported cases especially from abroad.

2) The country has made commendable strides in increasing testing capability, which is translating into increased testing capacity in all provinces throughout the country.

3) Important strides have been made in establishing isolation facilities in all provinces to enable the local management of cases as they occur.

4) The training of a large number of healthcare workers in various aspects of Covid-19 such as care, infection prevention and control as well as disease surveillance has been done and will continue.

5) Social mobilisation and health education have been intensified and the Covid-19 messages have reached every corner of the country. This has included the translation of Covid-19-related literature into all the 16 national languages.

The use of our traditional leadership structures as well as non-governmental organisations, churches, the private sector, media houses, among others, will continue to play a big role as we go forward.

6) Sanitation, hygiene and general cleanliness has in most instances been improved in all our communities. In this regard, I call upon all local authorities and our citizens in general to strengthen the measures that have been put in place.

Despite these many achievements in the implementation of the National Preparedness and Response Plan, the outbreak is not over, and our country still has some gaps. These gaps are being addressed in a targeted way using a comprehensive Covid-19 preparedness and response strategy which takes into account risks and needs of different communities and populations.

Zimbabwe will, therefore, continue on the Level 2 lockdown for an indefinite period. We shall have regular two-week interval reviews to assess progress or lack of it.

This should give us more time to strengthen the prevention and case management approaches for the various risk populations.

The modified phased reopening strategy will further allow us to increase surveillance, including early detection, testing, isolation, contact tracing, treatment and care with a focus on high-risk populations

The following measures are, therefore, put in place and will be adjusted at intervals, based on epidemiological outcomes:

1) Social and physical distancing will continue to be maintained and enforced at all times. I appeal to our people to exercise greater self-discipline in this regard. Our individual and collective roles in the fight against this pandemic can never be overemphasised.

2) The wearing of face masks as well as washing of hands or use of sanitisers in all public areas remains mandatory.

3) The regular disinfection with approved disinfectants of all public and private business premises, coupled with the use of body temperature checks at all entrances, must continue.

4) The testing capacity in all provinces using the recommended PCR testing kits will be increased.

5) Private sector-run testing and isolation centres are encouraged and will be facilitated in line with the prescribed policies of the Ministry of Health and Child Care.

6) The 21-day mandatory quarantine of returning Zimbabwean citizens and legal residents, who will be tested on days 1, 8 and 21 will continue to be in force.

7) All businesses and industries seeking to reopen must follow laid down measures previously announced in relation to social distancing, hand sanitisation, temperature checks and health education, among others. In addition, employees must undergo regular health checks and daily temperature monitoring.

8) As previously stated, public exam classes within schools and final-year students at colleges and universities must be allowed to continue, recognising however, the stipulated Covid-19 prevention measures.

Meanwhile, clear plans of the phased reopening of schools must continue to be put in place.

9) Shops and supermarkets should continue to enforce the social distancing of their customers. The operating times of all businesses have been adjusted to be from 8am to 4.30pm.

10) Consultations on the phased reopening of the informal sector are still ongoing. To date, only designated food markets shall be permitted to open.

11) The measures currently in place in relation to social gatherings for worship, weddings, funerals, political rallies and other such gatherings, remain in force.

12) Low-risk sporting codes, as will be outlined in the Statutory Instrument, shall be allowed to take place.

13) Bars and gymnasiums remain closed. Restaurants and food outlets are permitted to open only for takeaways and deliveries.

14) Inter-city and cross-border movement of people by road or air transport remain banned, except for transportation of essential cargo.

15) Inter- and intra-provincial and district movement remains controlled.

Commuter omnibuses/combis, unregistered taxies (mushikashika) also remain banned.

16) Only Zupco buses and Zupco-contracted commuter omnibuses with the stipulated number of passengers, and adhering to the sanitisation and disinfection regulations will be permitted to operate.

17) There shall be mandatory testing of truck drivers and other high-risk populations.

In conclusion, let me once again appeal to the nation to continue to patiently support the measures we are putting in place for the preservation and protection of life.

Saving lives is our collective responsibility and priority. I, therefore, urge all of us to stay at home and only move around when it is absolutely necessary to do so.

God bless you all!

God bless Zimbabwe!

I thank you!

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