Elita Chikwati Herald Reporter
More nurses and additional staff to conduct PCR tests are being recruited urgently to cope with the rising number of people infected with Covid-19 while Gweru joins Bulawayo and Harare as a declared Covid-19 hotspot, with the possibility of intensified localised lockdowns in the worst affected suburbs now being considered.
The bulk of the extra 1 000 confirmed cases in the past week have been in the three cities.
Speaking after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Senator Monica Mutsvangwa said Cabinet agreed that there will be no gatherings for the 2020 Heroes Day Commemorations and the Defence Forces Day Celebrations, and that President Mnangagwa will address the nation using the virtual platforms.
The virtual celebrations will take place over a period of two weeks and be covered by the ZBC which will extensively feature the Zimbabwe Defence Force’s exploits, community assistance projects and the Defence Forces Medical Outreach Programme.
The 2020 Heroes Day commemorations will be held under the theme “Remembering our Heroes” on August 10, the Defence Forces Day celebrations will be held on August 11, 2020 under the theme “ZDF: Celebrating 40 years of Excellent Service to the People”.
On the latest health developments, Minister Mutsvangwa said: “Cabinet notes, with concern, that the on-going strike in the health sector is negatively affecting the national Covid-19 response. More nurses will be urgently recruited from the available pool of qualified nurses, while processes to resolve those on industrial action continue.
“In addition, to strengthen the Covid-19 response, Government will recruit additional staff to run PCR tests, including unemployed graduates.
“Modalities are also being put in place to enable industrial and innovation hubs to produce Viral Transport Media, a critical ingredient in PCR tests currently in short supply.
“Cabinet approved to expedite the secondment and recruitment of additional staff such as nurses, laboratory scientists so as to strengthen the health delivery system and national response to the Covid-19 outbreak,’ she said.
There are now 2 817 confirmed Covid-19 positive cases by last night, compared to 1 713 cases reported on July 20.
The latest figures last night from the Ministry of Health and Child Care showed that the death toll has risen to 40, with the deaths of two 40-year-old men, a man aged 59 and a woman aged 50. Two of the deaths were in Manicaland and one each in Harare and Mashonaland East.
Of particular concern is that the cumulative number of confirmed local Covid-19 cases has increased to 1 787 by last night.
Most of the local cases are in Bulawayo (919), Harare (645) and Gweru (169).
declared Gweru a hotspot of Covid-19, in addition to Harare and Bulawayo. Government is expediting efforts to put in place rapid result test teams to facilitate localised lockdowns in hotspot suburbs of the three cities,” she said.
The number of those who have recovered from Covid-19 has increased to 604 by last night, leaving the number of active cases at 2 173.
To curb the further spread of the disease among Government officials, Minister Mutsvangwa said the holding of meetings by virtual means will be enhanced.
Face to face classes at universities and colleges have been suspended and lessons will be carried out online.
“Those who had started writing examinations will be allowed to complete while those who had not started their examinations will have them deferred.
“In the business sector, employers are required to issue new letters to their employees. The letters should contain the list of all the employees at the company, which list must be authenticated and stamped by the officer in charge of the nearest police station.
“Individual employees shall be required to carry such letters at all times, together with their national identity cards.”
Minister Mutsvangwa urged strict adherence to cross-border burial guidelines throughout the country to curb the spread of the virus. The limit of 50 people at gatherings will strictly be followed, especially at funeral wakes and church services.
“Municipal police, the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the local community leadership will work together to ensure that communities bury their loved ones within the strict confines of the law.
Minister Mutsvangwa said Cabinet also agreed on the immediate measures to control the spike in the number of Covid-19 confirmed cases and deaths which include that hotspots be quickly analysed with a view to implementing stricter lockdown measures so as to ensure behavioural change towards the disease in the areas.
“Cabinet agreed that holding of virtual meetings shall be enhanced and that all ministry staff reporting for duty shall be tested before assuming duty, while the outgoing group of workers is tested before leaving and upon return; that the rapid response teams will be provided with the vehicles and allowances necessary to enable them to carry out their duties efficiently.
“Social workers and other categories of staff providing documented Covid-19 frontline services at quarantine centres, public institutions and other areas will receive the same allowances as those given to health workers and the initial official communication of Covid-19 results shall be made by the Secretary for Health and Child Care with appropriate action being taken against those who violate the standing directive.
Minister Mutsvangwa said the country’s health centres had reasonable stocks of personal protective equipment, with stocks of at least three weeks at every centre.
The United Bulawayo Hospitals has now three months supply of such equipment in place.
Acting Health and Child Care Minister Prof Amon Murwira said authentic information about Covid-19 came from the Ministry of Health and Child Care and urged those with any information particularly concerning the pandemic to communicate through the ministry.
“We have all the statistics. There is data on the people that die or contract the virus although it is not published. It is important that we take a collective focus on fighting Covid-19.
“We are still looking at the possibilities of introducing localised lockdowns. Government can always advise on the best action to take but the battle is personal its about securing yourself and the next person,” he said.
Meanwhile, Cabinet approved the national fabric for virtual launching on August 10, 2020.
Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Minister Sithembiso Nyoni presented the fabric, which was arrived at through an extensive consultative process.
Cabinet also received a presentation from Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo on the proposed amendments to the Traditional Leaders Act to align it to the Constitution while the Principles for the Proposed Legal Practitioners Amendment Bill was adopted by Cabinet.
The amendment addresses deficiencies identified in the current Act pertaining to the composition of the Council of Legal Education.