IN a bid to revive the struggling economy, President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week further eased restrictions on movements designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The measures include allowing the informal sector to resume operations on condition that they register. Religious gatherings were also given the nod as long as they follow COVID-19 preventive measures, among them not exceeding 50 congregants and observing social distancing requirements.
Residents were also permitted to travel throughout the country when necessary.
Since Zimbabwe’s economy is highly informalised, this will come as a relief to hard-pressed masses.
While the move to reopen the economy is laudable, it comes at a cost and Zimbabwe may lose control of the fight against COVID-19.
On Thursday, the country recorded 67 new cases in a single day. Of these, 20 were local transmissions.
While there is no need for citizens to panic over the increased number, the surge calls for enhanced responses towards combating the spread of the virulent disease.
Of late, the country is experiencing a spike in cases particularly at quarantine centres and this new trend requires that government and stakeholders guard against complacency.
That deaths have remained at four and recoveries are increasing is testimony that the country was on the right track. But complacency will be our biggest undoing. Since the easing of the lockdown regulations, many people are running their lives as if COVID-19 has just vanished.
Handshaking has returned. Money games are being played at open spaces in most high-density suburbs with open markets operating at full throttle, especially at dusk. We need to remind each other that the laxity of the lockdown measures should not be mistaken with the evaporation of the virus.
We have noted with concern that many people at public places are no longer observing social distancing or the wearing of face masks. This is self-defeating, considering how dangerous the COVID-19 can be. We should never convince ourselves that the virus is no longer with us.
The government should up its game on contact tracing and isolating those that have tested positive to prevent further spread within the facilities and beyond. Focus must now shift to speeding up the testing process to avoid a situation where returnees overstay in quarantine centres. It’s a fact that returnees have remained the major source of the positive cases which are now 463 and counting.
Let us remain extra cautious about coronavirus. Preventive and protective measures should remain in place. The easing of lockdowns does not signal the end of this medical calamity. Let’s keep coronavirus at bay by being smart.