New Zim Lockdown Might Not Flatten COVID-19 Curve- ZADHR

THE Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) says the new Lvel 4 Lockdown might not yield the intended outcome of flattening the curve of COVID-19 infections owing to a continued defiance of regulations by the generality of the public and the business community.

By Michael Gwarisa

Giving their 21st COVID-19 Monitoring and Advocacy Report, ZADHR said in as much as they welcome the new lockdown, it exhibits numerous loopholes which could defeat the intended objectives of the restrictions.

ZADHR is of the position that the current lockdown measures announced by government, though  welcome,  may  not  provide  the  much-needed  impact  in  breaking  the COVID-19 chain  of  transmission  and  help  in  flattening  the  COVID  19  curve.  In  a  snap  survey conducted by ZADHR on the 1stday of the lockdown, many non-essential retailers were in operation  across  the  country.  Additionally, human  traffic  was  witnessed  at  the  country borders and in inter-provincial  travels.

“ZADHR posits that  there  are too  many loopholes on the proposed letters of travel authorization process with reports that some retailers were being granted exemption letters to operate in unclear circumstances. We reiterate that the scientific basis of a lockdown is predicated upon limiting most if not all human movement for a  period  of  14  to  21  days,” said ZADH.

They added that   government  must  identify  provincial hotspots and have tailored measures or different levels of the lockdown depending on the incidence of COVID-19 while on the other hand, Interprovincial travel must be limited and COVID 19 certificates may be considered for all local travel from all COVID-19 hotspots.

“ZADHR also laments the continued influx of travellers through air when the country is faced with an  existential  threat  of  new  strains  of  COVID-19  from  South  Africa  and  the  UK.  The response by the government since the onset of the pandemic has been mostly reactionary and  is  devoid  of  proper  planning processes  that  respond  to  the  existing  risk  levels.

“ZADHR’s considered  view is that  the  government  could  have  acted  proactively  and timeously  before  the  festive  season to  curb  movement  from  both  within  and outside Zimbabwe. With countries  like the United Kingdom and South  Africa dealing  with the vicious new COVID-19variantand the high numbers of travellers during the festive season from these  two countries, stricter measures were supposed to have been put in place prior to the holidays.”

ZADHR said even though they acknowledge  the move to allow only examination classes to write examinations,  the current trends and mutation of the COVID-19virus,ZADHR suggests that schools should remain closed until the widespread community transmission is under control.

“ZADHR encourages the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (MoPSE)and all  relevant stakeholders to utilise  the  lockdown  and  the  closure  of  schools  to  equip schools  with  necessary materials  and  equipment to curb COVID-19transmission  in schools. Treasury must  urgently avail the  necessary resources  to  MoPSE and ensure the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for   the Safe Re-opening   of Schools are implemented expeditiously.

“ZADHR notes that the previous lockdown was  marred by several  cases of human rights violations allegedly perpetrated by State security agents deployed to enforce lockdown and other COVID-19 regulations. ZADHR continues to  reiterate  the  importance for  a rights-based approach to enforcement of regulations which provides  for the respect and promotion of civil and political liberties as enshrined in the constitution and international human rights instruments.”

ZADHR warned government against excessive use of force, arbitrary arrests or detention, torture or any other cruel or inhumane treatment for those breaching lockdown regulations. ZADHR also implored the public to follow the stipulated regulations to help compliment the efforts of the Government towards the fight against COVID-19.

 

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