PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa this week announced a dusk-to-dawn curfew, as he restored strict measures to contain the spread of the deadly Covid-19, following a spike in infections in the country.
Starting on Wednesday, the security forces were enforcing the curfew between 6pm and 6am. In addition, all non-working people were ordered to stay at home, except to buy groceries and seek medical attention. Business hours are now limited to 8am to 3pm, except for those performing essential services. Registered small-scale and medium enterprises are allowed to operate. Food and vegetable markets remain open and operational and must observe set measures, rules and requirements.
This came as the World Health Organisation (WHO) voiced alarm at the spread of Covid-19 on the continent.According to the official figures, Zimbabwe had recorded 2 124 coronavirus infections and 28 deaths as of last night, with local transmissions nearly doubling in a week. The country has been gripped with fear and anxiety, following a spike in local transmissions.
While Mnangagwa said the country “can no longer be complacent”, the measures he announced fall far too short in stopping the spread of the virus.
Many Zimbabweans waited anxiously for Mnangagwa to announce the new measures. They expected tough and decisive measures that would bring hope and ensure that Covid-19 will not cause havoc as it is doing in South Africa which, as of Wednesday, had recorded more than 395 000 infections and 5 940 deaths.
Videos on social media of bodies of people that have died of coronavirus in South Africa being smuggled into Zimbabwe are causing more panic among locals.
Never in the history of the country have we confronted a major threat on this scale, which has the potential to wipe out thousands of lives a day. Developed countries with better health care have recorded high numbers of infections and deaths.
The President needed to impose a complete lockdown. Not doing so will result in the infections spiking out of control, further crippling the capacity of the few isolation centres and putting pressure on an already demoralised medical staff and crumbling health delivery sector.
It makes no sense to impose a curfew between 6pm and 6am. The problem is: what happens between 8am and 6pm when businesses are operating normally? In order to contain this disease, the country needs to target areas where people converge in huge numbers like markets.
What is left is for every individual citizen to play a part responsibly in stopping the spread of the disease. People should continue to heed the call to self-isolate, avoid unnecessary movements and to practice social-distancing.
If it means locking down the country once again to combat the spread of the disease, so be it.