Lockdown Level Four to curb rising cases

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By Elizabeth Sitotombe

PRESIDENT EMERSON MNANGAGWA announced Level Four lockdown with new restrictions in a bid to curb rising cases of COVID-19.

The last time the country was under strict Level Four lockdown restrictions was in January during the terrible Second Wave.

“Following a recent surge in COVID-19 cases and subsequent to the localised lockdown measures introduced in places such as Kwekwe, Karoi, Kariba and Chinhoyi, we are now stepping up efforts by introducing additional enhanced Level Four measures,” said the President.

He, however, went on to state that the new regulations were designed to allow as much economic activity as possible, whilst containing the virus. 

 The measures, which took immediate effect, will run for a duration of two weeks and will be reviewed thereafter. 

As of June 29 2021, 1 249 new cases were confirmed and, sadly, 12 deaths were announced on the same day. 

Cases in Harare have been rising rapidly, with 182 cases being confirmed on the same day.

COVID-19 outbreaks have mostly been concentrated in the cities, but the rural areas have not been spared from COVID-19 in the Third Wave. 

Mashonaland West has been the hardest hit by the new coronavirus infections, with Karoi recording very high numbers per day.

Key highlights of the new restrictions are;

  • Inter-city movements prohibited except for the production and distribution of food and medicines
  • Businesses will now operate from 8am and close at 3:30 pm.
  • Travellers from countries with Alpha and Delta COVID-19 variants will be quarantined and tested on the first, third, fifth and 10th day, at their own expense.
  • Custodial sentences to be given to fake COVID-19 certificate holders
  • Industry to decongest workplaces to 40 percent of manning levels. 
  • A COVID-19 vaccination blitz will be rolled out in the border towns and cities, tobacco auction floors, GMB and COTTCO depots, major construction sites and people’s markets. 

Zimbabwe has administered over a million jabs, with 544 888 being fully vaccinated.

The Government took delivery of 500 000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine on Saturday, with a further two million expected from China this week. 

Distribution of the vaccines would be carried out systematically, with hotspot areas given top priority. 

Vice-President and Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Constantino Chiwenga encouraged people to get vaccinated.

“ We have realised that people are dying, so we want everyone to be vaccinated so that you protect yourself and the next person,” said VP Chiwenga.

The Government is also allowing the use of the drug Ivermectin to treat COVID-19 as the Third Wave of infections rise.

The Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe(MCAZ) said: “The secretary for Health and Child Care has authorised the MCAZ to authorise the importation and use of Ivermectin for COVID-19 treatment. MCAZ will issue bulk Section 75 approval for importation of human formulations of Ivermectin manufactured by compliant facilities.” 

Data obtained from the use of Ivermectin in Zimbabwe will be critical in monitoring the safety and the efficacy of Ivermectin within the Zimbabwean population. 

Ivermectin has been around for close to 40 years and has been used to treat skin infections and inflammation in humans. 

The drug was approved for use during the Second Wave, with patients being prescribed a combination of Ivermectin, Azithromycin and Nanosilver. 

Many health physicians claimed to be taking one tablet of Ivermectin every two weeks as a preventive measure. 

Lack of compliance in COVID-19 protocols, the emergence of new variants and the slow vaccination rate are among combination of factors said to be fuelling the Third Wave on the African continent.

According to the head of the Africa region for the World Health Organisation (WHO) Matshidiso Moeti: “ The latest surge threatens to be the worst yet. Cases are rising especially quickly in 12 countries, though health systems are already pushed to breaking point in many more. In Namibia, Uganda and Zambia, among other places, oxygen is running out and hospital beds are full. The WHO calculates that, within weeks, the Africa-wide caseload of the Third Wave will surpass the peak of the second, which, in turn, was higher than the first.”

 While a grim picture has been painted about the continent and its fight against COVID-19, measures, such as hand-washing, sanitising, social distancing and, above all, getting vaccinated are a prerequisite in these times.

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