Zim Blindly Following Global Lockdown Trends

When President Emmerson Mnangagwa stepped to the podium at State House yesterday afternoon, an extension to the ongoing coronavirus lockdown was inevitable.

Rightfully so, Zimbabwe is not safe to completely open up as yet.

As President Mnangagwa stated in his address that the country is yet to meet the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended guidelines for the uplifting of the lockdown restrictions the lockdown remains the only sensible decision to take.

However worringly, is lack of foresight bt Zimbabwe’s government in preparation for the new normal of living with the virus for the foreseeable months to come.

Global infectious diseases experts have noted that the Coronavirus pandemic is here for the foreseeable future and governments need to first neutralise its spread and then prepare for life under the new normal which will include social distancing measures, protective wear , massive testing amd contact tracing among other precautions.

This brings one to seek answers as to what progress has Zimbabwe made in its initial 21 day Lockdown before examining the next 14 day extension.

Zimbabwe has only made about 2 581 tests in the last 16 days that is half of South Africa’s over 5 000 tests per day.

There are 25 positive cases and three deaths recorded so far.

Of the tests, there are plenty whose results are still pending.

Interestingly, another Africa country, Ghana which started its 3 week lockdown just about the same time Zimbabwe entered into its own, has managed to make over 68 000 tests during the period, recording 1 042 positive cases and nine deaths.

Ghana has however took a bold decision to end its lockdown albeit under some strict restrictions on social gathering.

But the jist of the Ghanaian example is for Zimbabwe to enforce a lockdown with purpose and foresight rather than just join the league of nations in lockdown.

In Ghana for instance, local factories commenced production of protective equipment and drone services were being used and are still used to speed-up the transportation of tests.

Sadly, covid-19 testing under the lockdown in Zimbabwe is far from satisfactory and at this rate, the 14 days will lapse and the country will find itself unprepared to get out of lockdown.

“This disease is going to be with us for the foreseeable future and countries have to learn to live with it,” WHO special envoy for Covid-19, David Nabarro said on BBC’s Hardtalk yesterday.

The fact that covid-19 is still around should not be the only basis why communities should remain under lockdown, but stronger defenses such as disinfecting, testing, contact tracing and protective clothing all at a massive scale are prerequisites for countries to start exiting the lockdown.

“Provided we set up defences in communities its time countries should start to think of living with the virus. To have businesses running alongside this virus, to have social interactions alongside this virus without continuing to have these Lockdowns,” Nabarro said.

On the economic front, businesses have lost millions of dollars with jobs on the line yet there seem to be little action government is doing in getting the country ready to commence activity when the two weeks lapse.

Zimbabwe remains among the lowest ranked countries in terms of testing and not to talk of advanced measures like contact tracing technologies being used by other countries.

Instead, resources should be channelled towards capacitating local industries to manufacture protective equipment during this lockdown period and by now results of such funding should be evident on the market.

Most frontline workers such as medical personnel and the security forces remain under-equiped when conducting their duties and in short there is slow reaction to adequately ensure these measures are in place.

With the current scenario, the last 21 days have gone by without much space being covered in the fight against the virus and preparation of life with the virus and this means this lost time will never be recovered.

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