COVID-19: Lockdown extended, Chinese vaccines arrive

President Mnangagwa receives COVID-19 vaccines from China. Photo credit: Xinhua

As Zimbabwe begins its Covid-19 vaccination programme, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has extended the national lockdown by a further two weeks as a measure to curtail the spread of the virus as well as reducing new infections.

Addressing the nation from the State House yesterday, President Mnangagwa said, however, despite high profile deaths, there’s been a marked improvement in recorded cases though the figures of active cases are still high thus the need to extend the national lockdown with a bit of relaxation.

As of February 14 there were 68 cases recorded and two deaths.

He said the extension will play a key role of allowing the figures of active cases to decrease.

“While the national lockdown goals are now within sight. The numbers of active cases, the deaths are however still very high.

“These need to come down further, every life lost is a big loss to us. I therefore extend the national lockdown by further two weeks.The extension will allow the number of active cases and those still in incubation to recede.

“This extension should cause a great reduction in the pull of infected people, enable health personnel to investigate and monitor the presence and circulation of new variants,” he said.

The following are the current measures; (i) staying at home thereby limiting community transmission, (ii) correct wearing of face masks and the use of sanitizers,(iii) keeping physical distancing in all places and in public transport such as on Zupco buses, (iv)de- congesting government offices to 10 percent.

He said the de-congestion of government offices was being strictly observed.

The informal sector activities which he said pose a challenge on social distancing remain restricted.

The lockdown extension will also see enforcement of the curfew, closure of bars, beer halls, and restaurants.

He said the new measures will operate as follows: hours of business will be 0800hrs to 1700hrs in the afternoon.

Curfew ease from 2000hrs to 0530hrs in the morning, no intercity and interprovincial commuting, funeral gatherings to remain pegged at 30 people with all social gatherings remaining banned, and essential services are to remain functional.

President Mnangagwa also indicated that “All burials are to be handled according to the World Health Organisation(WHO) protocols and regulations.”

Government manning levels, it has been highlighted, to increase from 10 percent to 25 percent with the Ministry of Health and Child Care increasing testing across the country.

President Mnangagwa stressed that all private companies seeking resumption of operations should test their employees in compliance with WHO protocols.

“All those in the informal sector may only open once they have satisfied the WHO protocols.”

The Judiciary will open for only urgent cases to be heard and one is allowed in the gallery.

“All who attend court will be tested. Schools will remain closed for the duration of this extension.

The markets shall remain open but observing social distancing.

Mnangagwa urged citizens to remain strong and hopeful in the fight against Covid-19 as he encouraged them to continue sticking to national lockdown stipulations.

“Let me take this opportunity to remind all of our citizens to remain vigilant, focused and continue to adhere to all the lockdown measures. The health of our nation depends on us all.”

Zimbabwe Receives the first COVID-19 Consignment from China

As Zimbabwe is grappling with the economic crisis and trying to fight against the deadly pandemic with scarce health resources, yesterday the country received its first batch of Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccines from China.

The daily active cases and deaths were continuing to rapidly increase.

Receiving the vaccines at Robert Mugabe International Airport, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said the donation came at an opportune time Zimbabwe needed it the most.

He indicated that China’s support was another demonstration of tying stronger relationship and partnership with Zimbabwe.

“It has not been lost on us that in times of need, China’s response has been swift,” said Chiwenga.

Addressing the nation yesterday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa expressed his gratitude to China for showing great humanity and extending special support to the Government of Zimbabwe.

“As I address you, our nation this morning received its first consignment of vaccines from the People’s Republic of China. Let me again thank the Chinese government for this gesture of great humanity,” he said.

President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe will forever remain grateful to the Chinese government and people for standing with the nation during these grave times.

He added that he was pleased to note that the second consignment of the vaccines from other nations was also on the way.

“I’m also happy that the second consignment of vaccines procurement from the People’s Republic of China will be received in a few weeks time. As already indicated, vaccines from other countries namely Russia, India and United Kingdom are also on the way.”

These vaccines, he pointed out, should see the country’s pace of vaccinating willing Zimbabweans increase in temple that is drawing Zimbabwe nearer the goal of achieving health immunity and help the nation to attain Vision 2030 Agenda.

“The ultimate goal is return to our normal lives so our children can go back to school and that we all resume our collective efforts towards recovery and growing our economy for the realisation of Vision 2030,” said President Mnangagwa.

He highlighted that the vaccine roll out will be announced by the Minister of Health and Child Care.

Speaking at the airport, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said,”Next month we will be acquiring additional vaccines from China to the tune of 600,000 doses and the programme will continue until we head towards the target of 1.8 million doses.”

Zimbabwe is the first country in southern African to receive the Sinopharm jabs, whose efficacy against a new variant that emerged in neighbouring South Africa, is still unclear.

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Byron Adonis Mutingwende