Although there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 cases in Zimbabwe, the old adage “prevention is better than cure” is important in curbing an outbreak of this pandemic, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) has said.
The umbrella body of churches said with cases on the increase in South Africa, Zimbabwe’s largest trading partner, chances are high of the possible spread of COVID-19 to the country, owing to the huge volumes of human traffic between the two countries.
Owing to the bad state of our health institutions, and the unclear level of preparedness in case of an outbreak, ZCC said it is necessary to institute preventative hygiene etiquettes and practices. The Zimbabwe Council of Churches works in, and with thousands of faith communities across the country, and has ecumenical partners in Africa, and across the world.
In light of this fact, the following hygiene conventions are being recommended in order to prevent any possible spread of COVID-19:
▪ We encourage the faithful across all religious communities to avoid handshakes or any physical contact
▪ Personal hygiene is important so wash your hands thoroughly with soap and running water for 20 seconds ▪ We urge all churches and religious communities to avail alcohol-based hand sanitizers for use
▪ Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
▪ Cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm if you have no tissues or handkerchief
▪ Carry tissues or a handkerchief to cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing.
▪ Staying hydrated is encouraged
▪ We encourage all faith communities to share widely the WHO guidelines on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19
▪ Please note the main symptoms of the Corona Virus include fever, runny nose, a dry cough, and shortness of breath.
▪ Those who present these or more symptoms are encouraged to self-isolate, and quickly get medical attention
▪ We exhort that all religious and liturgical processes that entail physical contact be halted
▪ Zimbabwe Council of Churches has put on halt all work-related travels on the continent and internationally
▪ Zimbabwe Council of Churches is discouraging personal regional and international travel for its staff
▪ Meanwhile approved alcohol-based hand sanitisers have been provided in all work stations, and high levels of hygiene are encouraged at all times. ▪ Zimbabwe Council of Churches planned mass gatherings have ALL been suspended in the interest of public health until further notice
. Where possible, virtual meetings will replace physical meetings
“The most oft-repeated instruction in the Bible is “do not be afraid”. Because we are people of faith, we exhort all the faithful to be of good courage and remain firm in our faith in Jesus Christ. We are also mindful that information is power, and therefore urge all religious leaders to be sources of credible and factual information in order to empower their flock. As there are possibilities that some in our midst may be infected by this virus in the coming days or weeks, the compassion of Christ should abound as we give pastoral support to our brothers and sisters (in line with recommended hygiene practices). We call the nation to pray for God’s protection as this pandemic not only calls for clean hands but also open, compassionate hearts as with take up our Christian commitment to care for one another in these challenging times,” said Rev Dr. Kenneth Mtata, the ZCC Secretary-General.