By Mukudzei Chingwere
Government will not hesitate to re-introduce tough Covid-19 control measures if non-compliance with regulations becomes rife and risks a spike in new infections.
Speaking after being vaccinated against the virus at Wilkins Hospital in Harare yesterday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the easing of Covid-19 lockdown measures should not be mistaken for a total victory against the global pandemic as it continued to be a threat.
Complacency has been creeping in, with people disregarding Covid-19 mitigatory protocols after President Mnangagwa announced new measures allowing people to have more social contact as part of the delicate process to return to normal life.
Despite spirited campaigns by authorities to discourage irresponsible behaviour, people continue flouting recommended measures leading to thousands of arrests.
Health experts are warning, and have been advising authorities that a third wave is likely if people stop adhering to protocol.
Minister Mutsvangwa said Government was following science as well as the submissions of experts.
“The inter-ministerial taskforce on Covid-19 works very closely with experts or advisors who advise us on what is happening on the ground. These are people who advise the Government before any review or relaxation is made.
“The reviews are done according to advice coming from those experts who are researching daily. So when there is a bit of relaxation, we do not need to be complacent. We need to continue adhering to those protocols,” she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa emphasised that Zimbabwe had not won the fight against the global pandemic and there was need to continue following the laid down protocols.
She said President Mnangagwa had emphasised that priority would be given to lives with the economy coming later, thus if need arose, restrictions would be tightened to save lives.
“We know that the President reviewed the lockdown measures and there was a bit of relaxation. The President is looking at saving lives and when you are saving lives there is another side where there is the economy which needs to be saved.
“Vaccination does not mean you are immune, therefore you should not be moving around without a mask and not adhering to protocols, all what it means is that it weakens the virus when it gets to you.”
Zimbabwe yesterday joined the rest of the world in commemorating International Women’s Day and Minister Mutsvangwa said accepting the vaccine was her way of remembering the day for women.
She encouraged other women to get vaccinated and help the country achieve herd immunity which would boost the country’s quest to win the war against the pandemic.
“We should not be complacent. To the women of Zimbabwe, let us come together let us be vaccinated. We need to have that herd immunity so that our economies go back to normal.”
An expert in the Ministry of Health and Child Care who is part of the advisory team, Dr Raiva Simbi said generally people had been following protocols, but urged more vigilance and improved hygiene.
Dr Simbi said they would always base their recommendations on facts on the ground and would urge leaders to tighten restrictions if cases started rising.
“We have not won the fight against Covid-19 and a few people are becoming complacent, but the majority are still complying with the regulations which is encouraging.
“If cases start rising, we will recommend tightening of some restrictions to save lives so at this point we urge people to adhere to regulations and these include social distancing, masking up and just general hygiene,” he said
He urged people to be vaccinated which he said was an effective way to control such viruses since time immemorial.