BY TAFADZWA MHLANGA
Corporates have stepped up precautions in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic, which has affected and killed thousands of people worldwide.
Zimbabwe recorded its first fatality from the pandemic on Monday this week with the death of journalist Zororo Makamba.
The virus is rapidly spreading across the world after it was first detected in China last year. It has resulted in the death of more than 16 500 people globally.
The World Health Organisation is encouraging people to stay aware of the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak, maintain social distancing, washing and sanitising hands regularly, practising respiratory hygiene and to self-quarantine if one begins to feel unwell.
Local food outlets like Simbisa Brands and Nando’s have taken proactive measures to protect the public and their staff, a move they announced yesterday.
“We would like to inform our valued customers that all associates, front and back-of-house teams have under gone the necessary training from health care professionals so as to meet the required standards to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. All outlets have liquid soap dispensers, sanitisers and wash basins the customers can make use of, to ensure that they are able adhere to recommended hand washing procedures,” Simbisa said in a statement.
“With effect from Wednesday the 25th of March 2020, Simbisa Brands operating hours will be from 10am to 6pm, while Drive Thru outlets will remain open until late. On Fridays and Saturdays, all restaurants will be open until 8pm.”
Nando’s also encouraged social distancing by doing away with dining-in and putting sanitation facilities for both the customers and staff.
In a statement, Nando’s revealed that some of the precautionary measures they were implementing across its restaurants include sanitation for customers on entry, provision of fully-stocked hand wash stations, sanitation of Nandocas (the name for people who work at Nando’s) on entry and exit as well as social distancing between cashiers and customers.
Financial institutions have also taken precautionary measures to curb the spread of the virus by encouraging the use of mobile and online banking transactions and closing some branches to reduce social interaction.
First Capital Bank (formerly Barclays Bank) has reduced their branch network coverage by temporarily closing down some of their branches as of yesterday mainly in Harare and Bulawayo.
“In efforts to manage the risk of further spread of COVID-19, we are reducing our branch network coverage by temporarily closing the following branches from Tuesday March 24, 2020, Belmont in Bulawayo, First Street in Harare, Borrowdale in Harare and Harare Street in Harare,” the First Capital Bank customer services department said in a statement yesterday.
CABS Bank has also encouraged their customers to do digital banking in a bid to reduce physical contact while in bank queues.
“To curb the risk of exposure to coronavirus, we have reduced the number of staff in our branches. Kindly make use of digital channels for your banking,” it read.
Standard Chartered Bank has also encouraged its customers to avoid physical interaction and to use SC Mobile application to carry out their transactions.
“SC Mobile comes with world-class capabilities, bringing greater convenience to our clients, enabling you to transact seamlessly anywhere and anytime. Given the protocols around social distancing, we encourage you to use our digital channels for all transactions.
As a precaution, BancABC quarantined some of its employees who came into contact with the late Makamba.
“Out of the abundance of caution, all employees who interacted with the patient (Makamba) and their contact persons were immediately identified for further management. While none of the affected employees have shown any symptoms, preventative measures, which include a 14-day self-quarantine, as per health officials guidelines, have been activated,” the bank’s managing director Lance Mambondiani said.