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Govt told to tailor-make measures for COVID-19 hotspots

by Staff reporter
07 Jan 2021 at 08:25hrs | Views
GOVERNMENT should identify COVID-19 provincial hotspots and implement tailored measures or different levels of the lockdown depending on the incidence of the virulent disease, human rights doctors have said.

In a statement yesterday, the doctors said government should consider COVID-19 certificates for all local travel from COVID-19 hotspots.

"ZADHR [Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights] is of the position that the current lockdown measures announced by government, though welcome, may not provide the much-needed impact in breaking the COVID-19 chain of transmission and help in flattening the COVID 19 curve. In a snap survey conducted by ZADHR on the first day of the lockdown, many non-essential retailers were in operation across the country," the rights doctors said.

"Additionally, human traffic was witnessed at the country's borders and in inter-provincial travels. ZADHR posits that there are too many loopholes on the proposed letters of travel authorisation process, with reports that some retailers were being granted exemption letters to operate under unclear circumstances. We reiterate that the scientific basis of a lockdown is predicated upon limiting most, if not all human movement, for a period of 14 to 21 days."

The doctors added: "Furthermore, the government must identify provincial hotspots and have tailored measures or different levels of the lockdown depending on the incidence of COVID-19. Interprovincial travel must be urgently limited and COVID-19 certificates may be considered for all local travel from all COVID-19 hotspots."

ZADHR also expressed concern over "the continued influx" of travellers through air when the country is faced with an existential threat of new strains of COVID-19 from South Africa and the United Kingdom.

"The response by the government since the onset of the pandemic has been mostly reactionary and is devoid of proper planning processes that respond to the existing risk levels. ZADHR's considered view is that the government could have acted proactively and timeously before the festive season to curb movement from both within and outside Zimbabwe," the doctors said.

"With countries like the United Kingdom and South Africa dealing with the vicious new COVID-19 variant and the high numbers of travellers during the festive season from these two countries, stricter measures were supposed to have been put in place prior to the holidays.

On testing and screening, the medical practitioners said current testing statistics were not in tandem with the rising burden of COVID-19.

"The positivity rate in the few tests done over the past few days has been averaging 20%, highlighting the possibility that the pandemic could be much worse than what is reflecting in the Ministry of Health and Child Care situational reports," the doctors said.

"Furthermore, the proximity and increased travel between Zimbabwe and South Africa calls for Zimbabwe to also investigate the genomic structure of the COVID-19 cases we are witnessing urgently. The public health approach must then be tailored depending on whether we are dealing with a more transmissible strain of COVID 19 or not."

Source - newsday

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