ED extends lockdown as Delta variant sweeps across Zimbabwe

President Mnangagwa
President Mnangagwa

Staff Writer

President Mnangagwa has announced the introduction of stiffer penalties for people flouting COVID-19 regulations while strictly enforcing the ban on intercity travel.

He also announced a two-week  extension to the Level 4 National Lockdown imposed a fortnight ago.

President Mnangagwa said government efforts to contain the spread of the virus through the national lockdown and other measures have been affected by complacency in the communities.

He said the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus was accounting for 80 percent of the confirmed cases during the 3rd Wave being experienced in Zimbabwe.

The Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 has now been detected in more than 100 countries and it is expected to become the dominant strain globally, spreading quickly in countries with both low and high vaccination coverage, according to the head of the World Health Organization.

Delta, which was designated as a variant of concern in May, is believed to be the reason behind a vicious second wave of the virus in India, with daily new infections that month in the country exceeding 400,000.

The variant was first detected in India in October 2020. By June 1, it had spread to 62 countries. Two weeks later, it had been found in 80 countries and by July 4, the number had risen to 104.

President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe had resorted to using various methods and approaches to contain the spread of the virus in line with WHO guidelines.

“Unfortunately, the many successes recorded have not been enough to contain the 3rd Wave. The recent surge in cases and deaths is a reminder that we need to do more.

“Government had anticipated that the lockdown measures would assist in reducing the spread in infections and ultimately halt this surge.

“Instead, the current data are indicating a worrisome trend. Cases and deaths are continuing to increase at an alarming rate.”

President Mnanagwa blamed the surge on complacency by communities in adhering to the prevention measures including basic WHO protocols.

The basic protocols include proper wearing of face masks, hand sanitizing and social distancing.

“Secondly, the highly transmissible Delta variant is now circulating in the nation. Latest genomic sequencing results received last week indicate that approximately 80 percent of the fresh cases in Zimbabwe are now due to the Delta variant that originated from India,” he said.

The President said the situation had been worsened by loopholes in enforcing lockdown measures and recommended prevention measures.

He noted that people were traveling at night to evade the ban on inter-city travel.

President Mnangagwa said government would also use the two-week lockdown to accelerate its vaccination drive adding that at least one million people will get both doses of the vaccines during this period.

“All lockdown measures will, therefore, be strengthened and enforced. Areas of focus will include; enforcement of proper wearing of face masks, hand-sanitizing and social distancing.

“Decongestion of all workplaces [and] controlling the number of customers in supermarkets and other trading areas.”

President Mnanagwa also announced the introduction and implementation of deterrent fines and withdrawal of licenses for offenders.

Zimbabwe’s cumulative COVID-19 cases has surpassed the 70 000 mark with 2 236 deaths recorded since the first case in March last year.

Meanwhile, addressing a post-Cabinet media briefing, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said Zimbabwe’s recovery rate stands at 67%, with 97% of COVID-19 positive cases being attributable to local transmission.

The number of active cases stands at 20 370.

“The nation is advised that the surge reported the previous week continued, with a total of 11 751 cases recorded during the period under review, compared to 8 042 cases reported the previous week,” she said.

The worst affected provinces are Mashonaland West (2 107), Mashonaland Central (1 142), Harare Metropolitan (1 894), Mashonaland East (1 658) and Midlands (1 058).

The surge in cases has led to an increase in demand for beds, hence Government is expediting the full capacitation of isolation and treatment centres throughout the country, Minister Mutsvangwa said.




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