A long walk out of the woods

December 16, 2021

We did a poll on Twitter this week on what measures the government should put in place to combat the spread of Covid-19 amid a spike in cases caused by the Omicron variant.

he options we gave were the government to scale up testing, impose hard lockdown and enforce World Health Organisation (WHO) regulations.

Half of the respondents said enforcing WHO regulations should be prioritised, 26% opted for a lockdown while 24% said the government should scale up testing.

Some respondents said the options we had given were irrelevant as only vaccination was the real deal. We contend that the options do not work in isolation by in tandem.

You cannot ramp up vaccination while citizens disregard WHO regulations of the wearing of face masks, social distancing and sanitise.

A hard lockdown without scaling up of testing and vaccination will only serve one purpose: worsen the already miserable situation for the informal sector.

History taught us that blindly following the bandwagon without putting safety nets is a recipe for disaster.

However, Zimbabwe has recorded a surge in new infections over the past two weeks with experts warning the situation would worsen next month.

In the one week to December 14, the rolling average for new cases rose to 4580 from 1572. The national recovery rate dropped to 76% from 89%.

The statistics paint grim picture forcing the government to tighten measures. President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Tuesday that Zimbabwe had experienced a 472% increase in new Covid-19 cases.

He said 28,904 cases were recorded last week alone up from 5,055 cases in the previous week adding the last genomic sequencing has linked all the cases to the Omicron variant.

Mnangagwa extended the current lockdown by two weeks and ordered the scaling down of all government activities by 30% and that hotels and lodges should provide room service to guests as opposed to gathering in restaurants and bars.

These measures, alongside following WHO regulations and vaccination, are designed to help Zimbabwe stem the spread of the virus. In Europe, other countries are mulling introducing tighter measures as cases soar with estimates pointing that new infections in the UK will double after every two days.

This paints a grim picture.

Business is against a hard lockdown saying it will slow down the economy which has been on a growth trajectory.

While some experts have said the Omicron variant is mild compared to the Delta variant the WHO is calling for caution arguing that a surge in hospitalisation would stretch the already burdened health care system still to recover from the effects of the previous variants.

As the festive mood sets in, we implore citizens not to throw away the reins.

This Omicron variant is highly transmissible and a surge in hospitalisation will bring Zimbabwe’s struggling health care system to its knees.

The effects of the first, second and third waves are still visible. The pandemic and its variants have to be defeated first for global citizens to be free. Until then, vaccination and practising WHO regulations should be the health anthem.


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