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Third wave feared

by Staff reporter
11 Apr 2021 at 06:53hrs | Views
The spike in Covid-19 cases, especially in schools, could be a signal of the beginning of a deadlier third wave of the pandemic, health experts have warned.

According to a situation report released by the ministry of health and Child Care, a boarding school in Matabeleland South province recorded 78 Covid-19 cases on Friday.

Sacred heart Girls high School and Mzingwane high School in Matabeleland South had recorded 106 cases on the previous day.

Government accused school authorities of failing to follow laid-down standard operating procedures, which it said led to Covid-19 infections.

But health experts bemoaned poor testing facilities and relaxation of contact tracing measures, which was resulting in a high number of cases left without being detected, fuelling further transmissions.

Mpilo Central hospital acting CeO Solwayo Ngwenya said the fact that people were increasingly becoming complacent in observing Covid-19 protocols, and lack of adequate testing facilities could make it difficult to contain the third wave.

"A fresh Covid-19 wave manifests itself through a rapid surge in new cases," Ngwenya said.

"That is when a huge number of people start seeking hospitalisation and start looking for oxygen.

"We will go back to the trend of the second wave where hospitals could not meet the demand of people in need of admission.

Johannes Marisa, the Medical and Dental Private Practitioners of Zimbabwe Association president, said the rising cases were a cause for concern.

"When a new wave is coming, we see a surge of cases in consecutive days," Marisa said.

"As it was since the easing of the Covid-19 lockdown, our cases were ranging below 20, and deaths were not more than five and some days we would not even record a single death.

"But if we then see the number of new cases increasing each day consecutively, then we know we are doomed.

"We will have an upward trend in both new infections and deaths and the flat curve will disappear."

Agnes Mahomva, the chief co-ordinator of the national response against Covid-19, said the government was investigating the issue of surging cases, but said the situation in schools was "under control".

But teachers' representatives, who spoke to The Standard said they were not surprised by the Covid-19 figures in schools as they had foreseen the situation.

They urged the government to shut down schools before the situation went out of hand.

Zimbabwe National Teachers Union Manuel Nyawo said there was "disaster" in schools as most of the learning institutions had no capacity to test children for Covid-19.

"The reported Covid-19 infections in schools are a tip of the iceberg as we are likely to be having more cases that are undetected because schools have no capacity to test pupils," Nyawo said.

"There is need to get to the bottom of these incidences to establish the cause."

Community Working Group on health executive director Itai Rusike said a rise in new cases could be linked to poor preparations ahead of the reopening of schools last month.

"It is worrying that schools reopened without the enforcement of the standard operating procedure for infection prevention and control checklist in schools and without capacitating the school health coordinators," Rusike said.

"I think some schools have registered many children per class making it difficult to manage social distancing measures.

"The ministry of health and Child Care should visit schools to provide guidance on infection prevention and control measures."

Source - the standard