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Experts warn of third Covid-19 wave after Easter

by Staff reporter
01 Apr 2021 at 07:00hrs | Views
HEALTH experts have warned of the possibility of an explosion in Covid-19 cases immediately after the Easter holidays if the public fail to comply with lockdown regulations.

Easter holidays are traditionally associated with a lot of movement and partying.

The Easter holiday starts with Good Friday tomorrow until Easter Monday, allowing citizens ample time to travel and meet friends and relatives. Doctors said the third wave will be much stronger than the last two waves if people relax and fail to abide by Covid-19 prevention protocols.

They said there was complacency over the festive season which proved costly and past mistakes must not be repeated as the country may end up being saddled with a spike in cases or third wave.

During the festive season the country recorded a sharp increase in Covid-19 cases with 1 342 cases and 29 deaths being reported in a week, marking the highest number of infections and deaths to be ever recorded since the first case was recorded in March last year. The country recorded 34 deaths on January 5.

The number of deaths reached 500 five days later and after two weeks they had doubled to 1 005.

The festive season alone recorded more cases compared to the period between March and December 20 last year. The Chief Coordinator National Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic, Dr Agnes Mahomva said it is important for people to adhere to the stipulated health regulations to avoid a surge in cases during the Easter holiday.

"Just like what we did when we came to the end of the first wave, people got complacent then we got a spike. We are saying as we go to the Easter holiday let us stick to the lockdown measures to avoid a spike. We don't urge people to travel unnecessarily, particularly during this period and we are strengthening up our systems because what we know is that complacency is likely to trigger cases to go up," she said.

Another top health expert, Dr Rita Dlodlo urged people to celebrate the Easter holiday at their homes as families to avoid contracting the coronavirus and spreading it. Dr Dlodlo urged people to continue masking up and observing Government and World Health Organisation (WHO) protocols.

"We should learn from the festive period when we recorded a spike in cases, and sadly there were so many causalities including prominent people who succumbed to the virus during that period. We therefore need to stay safe," she said.

"Let us be conscious at all times during the Easter holiday and continue observing the lockdown regulations such as making sure that we limit the size of our meetings. We must avoid gatherings of large numbers of people beyond the stipulated 50," she said.

Dr Dlodlo said people should mark this Easter with their usual household family members and should try as much as possible to desist from travelling just in case they contract the virus and spread it to other people.

"If our turn comes for us to get vaccinated, we should not hesitate to go and get our first doses or second doses. Our Easter should be a low key one and interact as a family at our respective homes," she said.

Bulawayo pediatrician Dr Wedu Ndebele urged people to take precautionary measures during Easter and avoid large gatherings, saying they were super spreaders of the Covid-19 virus.

"Remember what happened in December when people relaxed and sadly some people lost their loved ones and it was so traumatic. Although the numbers are down, we should not forget that the pandemic is still here and therefore we need not be complacent," he said.

"All precautionary measures should be taken to avoid the recurrence of a surge. Let us avoid large gatherings especially parties and funerals because they are super spreaders of Covid-19. Let's continue to wear face masks, maintain social distancing and regular washing of hands."

Dr Ndebele said people should avoid unnecessary travel by staying at their homes.

"Let us travel when it is only necessary. In the event that we relax, there is a likelihood of us getting a spike or third wave which is already affecting other countries," he said.

Bulawayo city health director Dr Edwin Sibanda said they have strengthened their surveillance systems ahead of the holiday.

"From a medical perspective we entirely agree with the additional measures that have been instituted by the President. We are afraid that going forward we may find cases going up if we are complacent," he said.

"Yes, we have had a bit of a lull in the last few weeks when we have been registering less than 10 cases a day, but we are now strengthening our surveillance systems by making sure that we follow up on all contacts."

Dr Sibanda said those found not suitable for home isolation will be quarantined at Elangeni Training Centre until they become non-infectious.

"Those with symptoms will be moved to Thorngrove Hospital and as I speak, we have eight patients there and six at Elangeni. We will make sure we are on high alert during the Easter holiday and we encourage people to stick to those measures espoused by the President," he said.

Public gatherings, including church services and weddings are required to strictly be limited to not more than 50 people. Bars and nightclubs will remain closed during the Easter holiday.

On Tuesday, President Mnangagwa announced additional measures covering the Easter holiday, with visitors to the country required to produce valid Covid-19 tests certificates, failure of which they would be quarantined for 10 days in a hotel at their own cost.

Travellers into the country from neighbouring states are required to undergo valid Covid-19 PCR tests which are not more than 48 hours from the time of their departure to Zimbabwe. Borders have not yet been re-opened, and only returning residents are allowed to enter the country.

Pupils at boarding schools will not be permitted to travel back home and equally no parent will travel to the concerned schools during the Easter holiday. Church services and other public gatherings are limited to not more than 50.

Speaking in the Senate last week, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa said security will be beefed up during the forthcoming holidays to ensure adherence to Covid-19 containment regulations, amid expectations of an increase in human traffic countrywide.

She said Government was aware of the risks of a rise in infections during the holidays and has put in place mechanisms to avert a potential crisis.

Source - chronicle