Truck drivers pose new threat in COVID-19 infections

PHYLLIS MBANJE/VANESSA GONYE

CROSS-BORDER truck drivers may soon become vectors of the coronavirus because of their mobility.

This comes hard on the heels of reports from Zambia last week indicating that of the 10 truck drivers who tested positive for COVID-19, six were Zimbabweans.

The truck drivers are still allowed to cross borders carrying essential goods across Sadc.

They have also been accused of picking up passengers along the way and transporting them to other cities.

Under the current lockdown measures, there should not be inter-city transportation except for essential cargo.

Zimbabwe’s COVID-19 cases rose to 46 over the weekend.

The newly-appointed COVID-19 national response coordinator Agnes Mahomva said their new trajectory was now on the high-risk groups which included truck drivers.

“As alluded to by President Emmerson Mnangagwa when he extended the lockdown, our focus is on high-risk groups like truck drivers. It is now mandatory that they be tested and police will even accompany them to ensure they do not pick up passengers along the way.”

The Health ministry said babies and young children should not wear masks as they will not be able to take them off when they feel suffocated.

Meanwhile, young people living with HIV in southern Africa are set to benefit from a US$1 million fund from Switzerland, part of which is to help in fighting COVID-19 in the region.

Switzerland through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation’s (SDC’s) regional programme for southern Africa, committed the additional US$1 million to support southern Africa’s COVID-19 preparedness and response.

The new donation brings to US$3,3 million the amount that Switzerland has committed to the fight against COVID-19 in Zimbabwe and neighbouring countries while continuing to respond to the increasingly dire humanitarian situation in the region.

Partners of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation will also use the funds to capacitate frontline healthcare personnel, immigration, customs and other support staff in high-risk areas to better respond to COVID-19.

Manuel Thurnhofer, regional director of Cooperation for Southern Africa said Switzerland’s main focus in the region was to limit human-to-human transmission and minimize the regional impact of COVID-19 through partnership with countries, multilateral and non-governmental partners to mitigate vulnerabilities and gaps in preparedness.

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