CHIREDZI residents have not taken heed of the 21-day national lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus and were yesterday going about their business despite the threat of infection.
BY GARIKAI MAFIRAKUREVA
The town, which shares porous borders with Mozambique and South Africa, faces a serious threat as border jumpers are neither screened nor tested for the fast-spreading virus.
South Africa has 1 686 confirmed cases and 12 deaths, Mozambique 10 cases, while Zimbabwe has 10 cases and one death.
Except for shops that now operate between 7am and 4pm, the streets were full of vendors selling their wares, while the light industry was a hive of activity and youngsters in densely-populated suburbs were roaming the streets aimlessly oblivious of the COVID-19 challenge that the world is currently grappling with.
Most people who spoke to the NewsDay said they could not stay locked up at home because they live from hand to mouth.
“We are very much aware of the deadly disease, but we cannot stay home without food, otherwise we will starve to death. Everyone you see out here would like to be indoors, but they are driven out by hunger,” a woman who spoke on condition of anonymity said.
The United Nations (UN) last week warned that Africa could lose millions of lives to COVID-19 in the coming two weeks if developed countries fail to assist the continent.
The UN further hinted that the virus would remain a vicious cycle in the world if developed countries fail to provide test kits, masks, ventilators and protective suits for health workers as a matter of urgency.
Chiredzi district development co-ordinator Lovemore Chisema, who is chairperson of the COVID-19 taskforce, said residents should just comply with the lockdown order without being forced.
“People should try and limit unnecessary movements and gatherings to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus. If we find out that they are not following what they are expected during this lockdown period, we will be forced to use minimum force,” he said.
“It is high time we take this lockdown seriously because as a district, we are the most vulnerable because of the porous borders that we share with Mozambique and South Africa.”
Acting district medical officer David Tarumbwa said: “People should know that COVID-19 is real. They should understand that no government can declare a lockdown on it people just to punish them, but it is for their own good.”