Traditional leaders in the Midlands province have bemoaned lack of personal protective clothing (PPEs) and the reluctance by villagers to exercise social distancing to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
In separate interviews, the traditional leaders said they felt vulnerable to the disease and appealed to Government and non-governmental organisations working with rural communities to provide free hand sanitisers and face masks.
“We feel vulnerable as rural communities,” said Chief Chireya of Gokwe. “We don’t have protective clothing, villagers gather at funerals without face masks, no sanitisers. We cannot abandon funerals because of Covid-19. We are Africans.
“So we appeal to Government to help us and provide face masks in rural areas; we cannot buy these materials on our own.”
Chief Chireya said the prevailing drought situation in rural areas was making the situation worse.
“People roam around in villages looking for food, while some walk to business centres and other public places selling their wares without protective clothing,” he said.
“The situation is just dire in rural set-ups and we need help from Government for us to protect ourselves from this pandemic.”
Chief Maziofa of Mberengwa, said they feared that people coming from urban areas to attend funerals and burials could be the conduits to the spread of Covid-19 in rural areas.
“We have had several cases where people come from urban set-ups with their loved ones to bury them here in rural areas and this is the major threat,” he said.
“During funeral wakes, we mix and mingle with our counterparts whom we see putting on these masks while we remain vulnerable. This is our greatest worry and we do not know how this can be addressed. Maybe if everyone at a funeral could get a face mask.”
Chief Njelele of Gokwe, said there was still lack of education about the pandemic in rural area