Partial Lockdown Applauded

HEALTH experts have welcomed the moved by government to put the country on a partial lockdown as means to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

By Patricia Mashiri

Dr Alex Gasasira, the World Health Organization Representative in Zimbabwe recently told the state media that government had taken a broad decision in announcing a partial lockdown as a way of avoiding an upsurge in COVID-19 cases.

What the government of Zimbabwe is doing is in line with what the WHO recommends. It is necessary for governments to carefully review local evidence of levels of COVID-19 transmission and assess when additional restrictions are required to prevent the health system from being overwhelmed.

“This is critical to prevent a very high death rate due to COVID-19. We have seen in other countries in our region and beyond, cases rising and overwhelming the health system,” Dr Gasasira said.

In an interview with Health Times, Itai Rusike, The Executive Director Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) said the partial lockdown introduced by Vice President is to suppress the rising cases of Covid-19 and to provide a breathing space to prepare for and ramp up the vaccination, testing, contact tracing, health service capacities and other actions to manage the pandemic.

“Evidence is emerging on the challenges on social and economic harm of lockdowns for communities and particularly for poorest households, the large number of workers in precarious employment, the smaller enterprises without cash savings. As falling jobs and incomes themselves have health impacts. Zimbabwe is making difficult decisions around measures to protect health in the immediate with those protecting health and the economy in the medium term.

“The government should make sure that communities are fully engaged and understand a ‘new normal’ in which prevention measures are being maintained and their roles in preventing resurgence in new cases. In the absence of adequate vaccines for effective national vaccination roll-out programme there is an understanding that the measures chosen need to prevent resurgence in cases, while also avoiding knock-on effects of the measures used that themselves generate harm.

“Given that it is unlikely that Covid-19 will be completely eliminated in 2021, decisions on strategies going forward call for an integration of diverse evidence on public health, social protection and socio-economic risks and strategies, including from the livid experience of and reports from communities, sectors and services.It would be important to make clear the risk and strategic evidence, analysis and principles that are informing the government lockdown decisions, given their consequence for the general public,” Rusike said.

Meanwhile, Epidemiologist and Public Health Expert, Dr Grant Murewanhema said there was need to juts make a few sacrifices in order to reduce the spread of the virus.
“A few weeks of sacrifices could help bring the current wave under control. We have noted a general increase in incident cases in a number of African countries, and the low temperatures we are currently experiencing are the possible explanatory variable, alongside increased human mobility and complacency in general.
“I know we have other important bread and butter issues to deal in a country with non-existent socioeconomic support, and bills have to be paid, so the choice is never easy. Whichever way, lets wear our masks, practice physical distancing, wash our hands, avoid overcrowding, and abide by all which we have been advised. Our appeal to the government is to prioritize acquisition of vaccines for the population and get us covered,” said Dr Grant.

Currently Kwekwe, Kariba and Hurungwe were put lockdown because of the rate in which cases were rising. This measure has been put in place to avoid the spread of cases in other towns and cities. The total number of active cases stands at 1323 as of 13 June 2021, 1632 deaths and total cumulative cases are 39 959.

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