The Sunday Mail
GOVERNMENT is reactivating and strengthening its rapid response machinery to respond to a possible second wave of coronavirus.
There are fears infections continue to rise after five deaths and 86 new infections were recorded last week.
As of yesterday, Zimbabwe had 8 367 confirmed cases, including 7 894 recoveries and 243 deaths.
To curb the spread of new infections, Government has deployed private testing laboratories at ports of entry to intensify testing. Chief coordinator for the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Dr Agnes Mahomva, said the nation should guard against complacency.
She said caution should be observed during the phased reopening of borders from December 1.
“As long as our cases keep increasing, there is a high possibility of cases going up. People are relaxing and this can lead to a second wave. We have just ended an intra-action review which was discussing the best practices and challenges we have faced so far. We are going to continue with this monitoring because the possibility of a second wave cannot be taken for granted.”
Dr Mahomva said Government had identified borders as priority areas ahead of reopening of the country’s borders.
“Borders will be our main concern. There are already private laboratories vetted by the World Health Organisation stationed at borders. Imported cases are likely to increase, so there is need to scale up our cautionary mechanisms.”
Government’s concerns come in the wake of rising Covid-19 cases in Europe and the Americas.
Several European countries last week reintroduced tighter restrictions that had been earlier lifted, as the second wave hit nations that include France, Belgium and the UK.
Director of Epidemiology and Disease Control in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Portia Manangazira, said soaring cases in these countries is a warning to Zimbabwe to remain cautious.
“Closer home, South Africa has also been reporting new outbreaks.
“A number of factors contribute to the second wave; the biggest of which is that the world has no cure nor vaccine yet. There is no definitive “killer/exterminator” for the virus; there is no immunity to the virus as it is new to humanity.”
She said people previously infected with the virus face increased risks.
“In these persons there is possibility that some virus which was partially suppressed by the supportive measures and their immune systems remained in their bodies and may flare up in the form of infection and illness, or just be transmitted to other persons from time to time till sound immunity has been attained through vaccination or cure with virucidal medication, of which currently there is none.”
Virucidal medicines are those that kill inactive viruses. Dr Manangazira said the coronavirus vaccine will only be available towards mid-2021 and it takes time to achieve the required individual and population immunity.
“We have seen reduced use of face masks, hand hygiene and temperature checks in public spaces, conveyances and workplaces. The public is reminded that the lockdown was partially lifted to allow strategic social and economic activities that sustain life and livelihoods, but the pandemic is far from over.”
Presenting the post-Cabinet briefing last week, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa dispelled the notion that the coronavirus is weak in warm temperatures.