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Funerals now COVID-19 super spreaders

by Staff reporter
07 Jul 2021 at 10:04hrs | Views
CABINET yesterday noted that funerals were fast becoming COVID-19 super spreaders as mourners are not adhering to the laiddown regulations.

As part of efforts to contain the spread of the respiratory diseases, government has said only 30 people can gather at a funeral, but such gatherings have attracted huge numbers as mourners and community members are not abiding by the government regulations.

Addressing a post-Cabinet Press briefing last night, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said environmental health workers and police would tighten screws on enforcement of regulations.

"Funerals have become major spreaders within the provinces. The environmental health workers and police are upping their game in the enforcement of the mandatory numbers," she said.

"While village health workers are playing their part in educating villagers, we implore traditional leaders to be more visible and forceful in the enforcement of lockdown regulations," she said.

Cabinet also revived use of exemption letters to enable essential service providers to pass through police checkpoints.

Mutsvangwa also told the media that a team of Cabinet ministers deployed to different provinces to check on the COVID-19 situation had exposed the deplorable state of the country's healthcare delivery system, with some centres operating with no personal protective equipment (PPE), proper isolation facilities and bulk oxygen.

Ministers Ziyambi Ziyambi (Justice), Kazembe Kazembe (Home Affairs), Mangaliso Ndlovu (Tourism) and Mutsvangwa herself were each assigned to tour provinces including Manicaland, Matabeleland South, Midlands, Mashonaland Central, among others, where they submitted their findings to Cabinet.

Some of the findings include shortage of healthcare workers and misinformation on COVID-19-related issues.

"The findings from the provinces indicated that they were constrained by shortage of some PPE, misinformation on vaccines about their alleged negative effects and shortage of health care workers at some stations," Mutsvangwa said in her post-Cabinet briefing last night.

"Some district hospitals, such as Nyanga and Chipinge require bulk oxygen tanks, while some like Zvimba in Mashonaland West, Plumtree and Gwanda in Matabeleland South require functional isolation centres. Construction works at Mvurwi Hospital in Mashonaland Central province should be expeditiously completed to meet the current rising demand."

She also said government was not well equipped to enforce the mandatory 40% staff requirements to decongest offices.

"There are inadequate tools of trade such as desktops, laptops and vehicles, including provision of adequate data to ensure compliance by civil servants to the 40% staff requirements and all efforts are being made to redress the situation," Mutsvangwa said.

"There is poor network connectivity for both staff reporting for duty and those working from home. Some provincial taskforces indicated that there is erratic fuel supply and inadequate vehicles for operations."

She said given the challenges, Cabinet directed that Treasury urgently releases the first tranche of $368,2 million it had committed towards funding the enforcement of Level 4 lockdown measures.

"This will reinforce the current efforts of containing the spread of COVID-19. The nation is advised that the exemption mechanisms which were used during the first lockdown in 2020 will be reactivated with immediate effect. Stiffer penalties will be imposed for violations of COVID-19 restrictions, including the withdrawal of business operating licences," the Information minister said.

"The nation is informed that the surge reported in the previous week continued, with a total of 8 042 cases recorded during the period under review, compared to 3 882 reported the previous week.

"This represents a 107% increase. As you might be aware, the entire country is now under Level 4 lockdown, following the surge in COVID-19 cases. The worst affected provinces are Mashonaland West (2 114), Mashonaland Central (2 957), Harare Metropolitan (1 041) Mashonaland East (847), and Midlands (848)."

She said government was making preparations for opening of schools and that inspection visits would soon be carried out to assess the state of preparedness at all boarding schools, high enrolment day schools and schools with very limited infrastructure.

"The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education is working on modalities to enable a blend of face-to-face classroom learning, remote learning at home and in communities, as well as alternative learning platforms, such as e-learning, radio and television."

Source - newsday