Zimbabwe Covid-19 curve takes downward trend

Dr. Agnes Mahomva

THE country’s Covid-19 epidemic curve is on a downward trend indicating that the national response to the disease is on the right path following imposed restrictions.

However, health experts have advised members of the public to continue adhering to set regulations as a potential third wave may strike if people relax.

The third wave can be mitigated if citizens involve themselves in the fight against the global pandemic, instead of being compelled by Government.

The basic regulations include staying at home unless it is necessary to be outdoors, wearing face masks correctly, social distancing and regular sanitisation.

The total number of Covid-19 related deaths in Zimbabwe now stands at 1 316 while the national recovery rate is 82 percent.

Bulawayo province has recorded 5 021 cases, 4 422 recoveries, 405 active cases and 194 deaths since March.

Matabeleland South province has recorded 2 099 cases, 1 968 recoveries, 114 active cases and 17 deaths, while Matabeleland North has 1 192 cases, 660 recoveries, 519 active cases and 13 deaths.

According to statistics from the Ministry of Health and Child Care, during the Covid-19 second wave in the first week of January when the country introduced the strict lockdown, the country recorded 6 008 new Covid-19 cases, which by the second week increased to 6 382, but there has been a steady decline in new infections, with 4 126 recorded in the third week, 2 266 in the last week of January while by last week Friday the country had 1 058 new infections.

In terms of deaths in the first week, 106 deaths were recorded, which went up to 200 in the second week, further increasing to 291 in the third week. However, the fatalities began to decline to 219 in the last week of January, with the country recording 110 deaths last week. The Level Four lockdown is set to end on 15 February.

In her weekly update issued on Friday, the national Covid-19 co-ordinator in the Office of the President and the Cabinet Dr Agnes Mahomva said prevention was the only measure that will protect the country from a potential third wave.

She said Zimbabweans had four major lessons to learn from the first and second waves adding that the deployment of vaccines was one of the many prevention measures to be implemented as part of the fight against the global pandemic.

“The country’s Covid-19 epidemic curve is on a downward trend indicating that the country’s response is on the right path as we work to continue strengthening our national response. The question remains, what lessons can we draw from the first and second wave which will ensure we keep on recording low rates and prepare for the potential third wave?” she said.

Dr Mahomva said the first crucial lesson was on community ownership where she emphasised the need for individuals to realise that adherence to set regulations benefited them most, not Government and police.

“Strong community ownership in national response is very critical. It is important that the involvement is taken on board as this can contribute to achievements or lack of. Communities need to realise and recognise that recommended measures are for our good and not wait on police to force them to implement,” said Dr Mahomva.

She said the second lesson was that surveillance and testing are key in helping the country determine the impact of the disease.

“We also learnt that prevention is better, it is not only cheaper but very effective even the world over. More testing consumables have been purchased and more testing has been conducted as seen in the figures last week,” she said.
“We also learnt the importance of being guided by science in all we do which has helped us get to where we are.”

Dr Mahomva said the lessons will help prepare the country for a third wave which cannot be ruled out.

“This includes the deployment of vaccine as this is additional prevention measure to complement what we already have in existence.

“We now have a national vaccine framework in place and have key strategies which we have started implementing.

“We are working on modalities on the vaccine deployment but phase one will cover frontline workers and members of the public with underlying conditions. We also have a communication and advocacy strategy where we are working on ensuring people are not misled by falsehoods on social media regarding the vaccine.

“In the meantime, may we continue wearing our masks properly with or without the vaccine, washing hands and practising social distancing as prevention is the only way to control the spread of Covid-19,” she added.

In an interview yesterday renowned medical expert Professor Solwayo Ngwenya said community behaviours were paramount in determining the impact of the third wave.

“The community has to be extremely careful because one mistake there will be a lot of tears. The world conditions for the third wave are ripe and people brought in this new variant from South Africa since people travelled a lot during the festive season,” said Prof Ngwenya.

“Once people start crowding again and reverting to what the lockdown has been trying to address, there will be mass deaths and infections. I urge people as an encouragement not threats as some want to claim because there are a lot of unaccounted for deaths in the community as we speak.

The moment people start crowding again or gathering there will be mass infections and this third wave is an imminent thing. This time it won’t take long to spread and kill many of our people if we choose to be reluctant to observe recommended measures.” —Chronicle

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