THE Government is working on establishing 67 makeshift isolation centres, producing and importing medicines, acquiring protective clothing and producing masks and hand sanitisers for distribution among communities as it seeks to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Speaking during a briefing by the Ad-Hoc Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on the Covid-19 outbreak, the Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism, and Hospitality Industry Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu said they have engaged tertiary institutions and Ministry of Industry and Commerce to ensure that the country was well prepared.
“As an Inter-Ministerial taskforce on the Covid-19 outbreak we have agreed that there is need to have isolation centres decentralised to districts, provincial hospitals as well as central hospitals. About 67 isolation centres will be constructed. We will have isolation centres in all five central hospitals, 10 provincial hospitals, 52 district hospitals.
“This programme might then be extended to all rural health centres If need arises. Construction of these isolation centres is expected to start during the course of the week. We realised as a country that we need to shape up and rely on our inner strength if we want to combat the spread of Covid-19. When it comes to face masks, hand sanitisers we will be working with tertiary institutions and Industry for production as they have to be distributed to communities for free. We believe if we fully capacitate tertiary institutions, we can meet out national demands,” he said.
Minister Ndlovu said there was a short supply of protective supply globally and as a result they had tasked tertiary institutions to procure raw materials and begin production of protective clothing.
He said in a week’s time they hoped to start distributing the protective clothing.
He said the Ministry of Health and Child Care working with local authorities has created Covid- 19 rapid response teams at all levels and urged citizens to utilise them and avoid overwhelming hospitals as some cases could be dealt with at home.
Minister Ndlovu said it was imperative for citizens to abide by the lockdown in order to curb the spread of Covid-19. He said the lockdown will be spearheaded by law enforcement agents. He said there was need for extensive training of security agents on how to handle the public in case of resistance.
“The objectives of the lockdown are to control and curtail the spread of Covid-19. A person can stay for 10 days without showing signs of Covid-19 whilst spreading the virus to a lot of people. It’s important that we stay at home so that after 21 days it may be clear if there are people who may be infected and they will be dealt with through the rapid response teams. This lockdown will help reduce the impact and number of casualties we might record.
“We have seen that countries that have effectively implemented the lockdown have managed to limit the effects of Covid- 19. This lockdown has to work. Controlling the spread of this virus is a national duty that we should all take up,” he said.
Minister Ndlovu urged people to desist from panic buying as grocery shops will remain open during the 21-day lockdown and deliveries will continue.
In a similar meeting at the Gweru Provincial Hospital, the Minister of State for National Security Owen Ncube said the law will take its course on those defying the national lockdown.
He said roadblocks will be mounted in and around cities and towns to ensure that non-essential staff or people stay in their homes so that the country wins the war against Covid-19.
He however said the people will be allowed to go and buy food with essential trucks like delivery trucks being allowed on the road.
“What the lockdown means is that if you are in Kwekwe by tomorrow morning you stay there for 21 days. If you are in Shurugwi or Zvishavane it’s the same. We can’t have people roaming about. There shall be roadblocks in and out of towns and cities to ensure that the law is observed. We have a pandemic before us which is a national disaster and as such, we need to minimise our movements. The law will take its course on those who break the rules of the national lockdown. So, no-one outside essential services or going to buy food or attending a funeral wake should go to work or loiter in town,” he said.
“After panic buying by our people, trucks delivering essential goods and commodities will be allowed on the road. We won’t allow non-essential vehicles with more than two people including the driver on the road.”
Addressing government officials and service chiefs from Matabeleland North at the Mhlahlandlela Government Complex Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira said, “We are faced by a biological problem invisible to the eyes but very harmful. As we enter the lockdown at midnight (today), all Zimbabwean citizens and residents are urged to stay at home except for the essential service providers.
“The Ministry of Health is designing a prototype for a makeshift centre and in the process working with universities among them the University of Zimbabwe, Chinhoyi University of Science and Technology, MSU, NUST and HIT in the production of masks, sanitisers and protective clothing,”
Prof Murwira urged the public to adhere to the lockdown rules and exercise health measures set to restrain the spread.
The Minister of State for Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Cde Richard Moyo said, “As the provincial Taskforce team, we are tasked now to go and have district and wards Covid-19 committees which should hit the ground running to ensure there is no spread of the virus. Any challenges faced should be brought forward.”
Minister Moyo urged security officers during the lockdown to abide by the laws that govern their work to ensure citizens are safe.
Meanwhile, Matabeleland North Provincial medical director (PMD) Dr Purgie Chimberegwa, who oversees health issues in Bulawayo said they are overwhelmed by Zimbabweans who were deported from neighbouring countries due to lack of documentation.
“There are people who are deported and some are not documented. The public should be vigilant against such individuals so that they go through the health workforce,” he said.
Addressing the same meeting, the Midlands Provincial Affairs Minister Larry Mavhima urged residents to observe the conditions outlined by Government during the 21-day lockdown.
“The guidelines on how to behave during the lockdown are clear. We have since received a report from JOC members which is clear that all systems have been put in place. Let’s stay at home unless it is necessary for one to seek medical attention and groceries as well as for funerals. I urge you the people of Midlands to play a part in ensuring that we deal with this pandemic,” he said.
“You can see that the curve is spiraling up and most of the countries are fighting very hard to flatten the curve means stopping the spiraling and being able to manage the infections at a reasonable level. We are very fortunate here in Zimbabwe because the numbers that we have are very low but that is not supposed to give us the comfort that it is not coming or that it is not here. We are grateful to the President for having declaring a national disaster and further ordering a national lockdown. Indeed, what we need at the moment in order to drive the message to our people that the best way to dry away this infection is this strategy that has been put in place and suggestions regarding social distances and suggestions regarding washing of hands or clean hygiene.”
Minister Mavhima said citizens should discard some myths associated with Covid -19.
“There are some what I call fireside stories that this if only for white people but we have recorded a death in the country. Black people, African people are dying. This not discriminatory, it affects everyone especially if you are careless and if you don’t follow the basic guidelines pronounced so far. As leaders we should be the champions in promulgating what has been said by the Head of State and the Central Government,” he said.