Covid Variant B11529: Zimbabwe govt urges its citizens not to panic

Vice President Constantino Chiwenga

VICE President General (Retired) Dr Constantino Chiwenga says there is no need for Zimbabweans to panic following the revelation of a new coronavirus variant as government is putting in place measures to lessen the impact of the fourth wave.

According to State media, Vice president Chiwenga made the call for Zimbabweans to remain calm when he officially opened the Health professions authority 2021 annual congress in Harare this Friday.

Addressing health stakeholders, Vice President General Retired Dr Constantino Chiwenga who is also the Minister of Health and Child Care said government is prepared for the new variant and there is no need to panic.

“New variant, Zimbabwe has put on restrictions as part of SADC, this variant b11529 which has to be identified by yourselves as scientists. What i want to say is that the country should not panic because we are very prepared,” he said.

He said the private sector plays an important role towards promoting a healthy nation hence the need for a collaborative effort with government.

“We are aware that health sector plays an important role, HPA has been pivotal health delivery system through collaborative action joined efforts tools and technical knowhow. We are still struggling to remain on top of the situation after growing realisation that public and private is ideal, it is not a battle to be won by government, stakeholders must put hands on the table, working alone will not bring victory,” he said.

Meanwhile lead scientists in the country are looking out for any traces of the Covid-19 variant which has been detected in South Africa and Botswana.

The new Covid-19 variant, B.1.1.529 which has been described as an “unusual constellation of mutations” and “different” to other variants that have circulated before has become a major source of worry.
According to the director of the Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation in South Africa there are fears that the new strain is not domiciled in the nasal region and directly affects the lungs, thereby shortening the window period.

Local scientists are already working to identify whether there are traces of this variant in the country.

“We have our lead scientist and scientists already working on geo-sequencing to identify whether there is any case. Our clinicians are also on the ground to identify any traces of this new variant. We are also strengthening our ports of entry so that we can be able to identify the cases as early as possible,” said Dr Agnes Mahomva, the Chief Coordinator to the National Covid 19 Response in the Office of the President and Cabinet.

The World Health Organisation says it will take a few weeks for researchers to understand the impact of the new Covid-19 variant as the global body meets to chart the way forward.

“It will take a few weeks for us to understand what impact this variant has. Researchers are working to understand more about the mutations and what they potentially mean for how transmissible or virulent this variant is and how they may impact our diagnostics through therapeutics and vaccines,” said Christian Lindmeier, WHO Spokesperson.

Less than 24 hours after it was first detected , the new Covid 19 variant has already triggered travel restrictions with Zimbabwe among six nations placed on the red zone list by the United Kingdom.
South Africa has hit back at the restrictions saying that while it respects the right of all countries to take the necessary precautionary measures to protect their citizens, the British government’s decision to temporarily ban South Africans from entering the UK seems to have been rushed as even the World Health Organisation is yet to advise on the next steps.