Zimbabwe is under siege again. The detection of the new Covid-19 variant, Omicron, has sparked global panic.
Travel curbs and red listing of some countries have been instituted with Southern Africa being isolated by the rest of the world after South Africa and Botswana were the first countries to detect the variant.
We are back to the old ways of “every man for himself and God for us all”.
That the variant was already in place before it was detected by South Africa is evident as Europe had recorded a surge in new cases amid fears of the fourth wave.
Zimbabwe has also not been spared, recording a surge in cases on Tuesday. New infections rose to 399 on Tuesday up from 235 on Monday. The 7-day daily average for new cases rose to 131 from 79.
It is a sign that the threat is there as the festive season approaches. President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday introduced new measures cautioning Zimbabweans to be vigilant.
As part of the measures, all returning residents and visitors have to undergo PCR testing, and will be quarantined, at their own cost, for days recommended by WHO, even if they present negative PCR test results from elsewhere. He said complacency was creeping in amid fears it would worsen as the festive mood sets in.
A daily curfew, running from 9pm to 6am, was imposed to limit movement and hence transmission. Only essential services categories announced in previous gazettes stand exempt.
Mnangagwa said all those eligible for Covid-19 vaccination are being called upon to urgently get vaccinated. As of Tuesday, 3,794,549 had received the first dose while 2,816,543 were fully vaccinated. The vaccination has been extended to children between 16 and 19 years. Zimbabwe had a target to vaccinate 60% of the eligible population by December 31.
While the impact of the new variant is still to be assessed, experts say those vaccinated stand a chance to survive.
The measures come as citizens have been disregarding the WHO protocols such as the wearing of face masks and social distancing.
The maximum number per gathering of 100 was being disregarded as if the pandemic had been defeated. Individuals and businesses don’t like a hard lockdown due to its impact on operations and livelihoods.
However, there comes a time when a hard lockdown is the only way out like what happened in January and June this year.
It is a tough and rocky road no one would want to walk on again. This behoves that vigilance and adherence to WHO regulations should be paramount.
Some companies never recovered from the lockdown while others retrenched, throwing thousands into the streets. Citizens have a choice: either adhere to WHO protocols and be allowed to move freely or throw away the reins so that a hard lockdown is imposed.
This also brings up the issue of vaccination. History has shown that people stampede to vaccination centres when the infection rate spikes. Vaccination and adherence to WHO protocols are the only options on the table.