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.