PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa must be commended for his decision to scale down government operations to ensure that the majority of its workers are not exposed to the virulent COVID-19 which has wreaked havoc in several countries across the world.
While numbers of infected people in Zimbabwe are still minimal, we must take advantage of that and ensure that the majority of the population is hedged against potential infection. We also need more testing centres as the rate of new infections is most likely to rise. Although we commiserate with countries such as China and Italy where COVID-19 has taken a huge toll, we must use their experience to ensure that we do not pay a similar price of complacency.
Such experiences, in any case, have shown that Zimbabwe cannot hazard a massive outbreak because our health delivery system has no capacity to contain it, so it is better to be safe than sorry by ensuring that as many people as possible are not exposed to infection.
With only three cases of COVID-19 having been officially reported in Zimbabwe, we still have a golden opportunity to ensure that we minimise risk by taking the necessary steps to guarantee the safety of the people. While we do appreciate that the majority of Zimbabweans survive on informal trading, itself a potential massive breeding ground for COVID-19, it is better to ensure that these are closed for the safety not only of those that work there and their families, but the entire nation. We are living in a time where painful but necessary interventions have to be made, and government should be bold enough to make and implement them.
Admittedly, this is a novel situation given that this disease has no precedent, so government should continuously review these measures and ensure they continue to be tightened depending on the situation on the ground.
One worrisome area is that Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital seems ill-equipped to effectively deal with this and there is urgent need to open up more such facilities to cater for all people regardless of social status. The sooner we do that, the better because we don’t know how much of our population will be affected before the disease is finally put under control. So it makes better sense to ensure that all those requiring medical intervention get it effectively and efficiently regardless of their backgrounds.
However, we urge the President to ensure that these initiatives to reduce the impact of coronavirus on our people are not hijacked by crooks posing as businessmen under the guise of helping government to fight the epidemic.
These can come in all forms and shapes and might want to use their vantage postions to scam the majority poor.