BY NIZBERT MOYO
SOME parts of Zimbabwe are experiencing a surge in the number of Covid-19 cases and authorities have swiftly reacted by imposing a hard lockdown in places such as Bulawayo.
Over the past few weeks, government has imposed lockdowns on selected places such as Kariba, Hurungwe and Banket to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The Covid-19 third wave is also troubling other neighbouring countries such as South Africa and Zambia, where cases are spiraling out of control. South Africa has been recording over 10 000 new cases per day, while Zambia is hovering around 3 000 new cases daily.
In Zimbabwe, Mashonaland West province is also recording a high number of cases of Covid-19 due to its proximity to Zambia.
The pandemic, which was first reported in Zimbabwe in March 2020, has so far claimed over 1 600 lives and recorded 43 480 cases. Globally, infections have reached an alarming 180 million with 3,8 million fatalities.
To fight the pandemic, government embarked on an ambitious vaccination programme, which has seen 1 146 378 people receiving doses of various vaccines imported from China, Russia and India.
Yesterday, police in Bulawayo started implementing a localised lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19, amid fears the cases were escalating.
The localised lockdown was imposed with effect from Wednesday with only essential services providers being allowed to operate, while the rest were told to stay at home. Businesses and shops were ordered to close at 3pm with curfew revised to start from 6pm to 6am.
Bulawayo police spokesperson Abednico Ncube warned residents to adhere to the lockdown and curfew measures set by the government.
“It is therefore important to take note that curfew for the specified areas is now between 6 pm and 6 am. Public transport in those areas should not exceed half the maximum capacity, according to SI 183 of 2021. The named suburbs should only have essential services providers travelling around doing business,’’ Ncube said.
He urged Bulawayo residents to stay at home, saying the security services have been deployed to enforce the regulations.
This followed the government’s announcement that Bulawayo has effectively been put under a localised lockdown and that security forces should strictly ensure compliance.
Government declared three districts that are Covid-19 hotspots be placed under localised lockdown and these include Nkulumane, Emakhandeni and northern suburbs.
Suburbs covered by the Nkulumane clinical district include Nkulumane, Pelandaba, Sizinda, Nketa, Emganwini and Barham Green.
Emakhandeni clinical district covers Cowdray Park, Njube, Luveve, Magwegwe suburbs, Pumula suburbs and Emakhandeni. The northern suburbs include Mpopoma, Mzilikazi, Nguboyenja, Makokoba and the city centre.
Cabinet also postponed the re-opening of schools by two weeks following the spike in Covid-19 cases countrywide.
However, human rights activist, Effie Ncube criticised the government for its heavy handedness handling of the pandemic.
He argued that this could result in serious human rights violations and negative effects on business.
“You do not need to discard a constitutional obligation towards the rule of law and human rights. There is no need to create emergencies against Covid-19; it’s a pandemic that is here to stay. The government and the public must find ways to co-exist but not to destroy businesses,’’ Ncube said.
He said the government should expand its vaccination programme.
Recently, government announced that it was expecting more vaccines to be delivered in an effort to ramp up the vaccination programme to achieve a 60% (10 million people) by the end of 2021.
The authorities have also been urging strict adherence to the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, such as social distancing, wearing face masks in public and washing of hands.
Health experts such as Professor Solwayo Ngwenya constantly warned of a third wave of Covid-19 but some criticised him as an “alarmist”.
He recently posted on Twitter that; “Coronavirus: it is getting extremely serious. This is beyond being an “alarmist”, the whole of Africa faces a potentially catastrophic situation. Heed the advice!! So many, many warnings. What we do next will determine our survival or loss of many, many lives!!
“Coronavirus: fellow humans, in Africa in particular, the hour has come. You must take the virus extremely seriously. Take steps to protect yourselves and your families. These will be historically terrible times. We face a perilous future; let’s change our behaviour NOW!!”