BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
GOVERNMENT yesterday said it was in the “battle of our lives” and immediately called for the recruitment of over 500 nurses to help in dealing with the deadly COVID-19 wave.
Government has also revealed that it has developed a Draft Vaccination Framework Programme which will be made public as soon as modalities have been put in place.
This was disclosed by acting Information minister Jenfan Muswere in a statement yesterday following a meeting of the national COVID-19 taskforce on January 18.
Muswere said in the midst of the severe fight for survival, a planned increase in the allowances of those in the red zone was also being implemented.
“In order to deal with the current COVID-19 wave, the government is implementing the following measures: 500 new nursing posts are being created to augment staff complements at treatment centres,” he said.
Muswere said payment of the COVID-19 allowance to civil servants and pensioners had been extended indefinitely, and risk allowance for frontline workers was being reviewed.
Government had frozen recruitment of nurses and was embroiled in fierce battles with them of late over their calls for better remuneration and personal protective equipment as well as return to flexi-hours.
“We are in the thick of the battle of our lives and our clarion call goes to everyone to play their part during this pandemic,” Muswere said.
The country has been experiencing a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths since the beginning of the month, claiming lives of two ministers, Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo on Wednesday and Ellen Gwaradzimba, the Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister last week.
Several key people have also died in the past days, including Zanu PF secretary for external affairs and politburo member Simbarashe Mumbengegwi’s wife, Emily, and former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Kombo Moyana as cases continue to soar, with over 50 deaths daily.
Muswere also revealed that the country had developed a Draft Vaccination Framework Programme to be made public soon after modalities are put in place.
“A lot of public interest around the subject of a vaccination programme for Zimbabwe has been expressed,” he said.
“We are pleased to advise the nation that a Draft Vaccination Framework Programme has been developed. Once the modalities are in place, it will be shared with the nation.”
Countries across the globe are preparing to vaccinate against the virus despite fears over claims that some of the vaccines had severe side-effects that could cause loss of lives.
Muswere said the ad hoc inter-ministerial taskforce on COVID-19 met on Monday to deliberate on the national COVID-19 response and considered a number of strategies to curb further spread of the disease.
“Precious Zimbabwean lives are being lost daily. This is detrimental to our national development. We expect the rate of infection to subside due to Level 4 lockdown measures taking effect.”
He said Zimbabweans should adhere to set COVID-19 regulations, adding that at least 16 286 arrests were made in the last week.
“This is saddening as we believe self-policing is more effective when dealing with a literate populace,” Muswere said.
“Government, through the national taskforce, owes health workers a debt of gratitude. Those who work in the red zones, which deal with the care of the COVID-19 patients, will have their allowances reviewed with the intention of compensating them adequately.”
On burials, government said: “Regarding burials, government continues to respect family choices and preferences regarding the last rites of deceased family members.
“To that end, the movement of bodies has not been banned. For the avoidance of doubt, clearances to move bodies have to be sought from the Ministry of Health and Child Care with emphasis on strict adherence to (the following) conditions.”
He said as per Public Service Commission circular number 2 of 2021, a further reduction to 10% of civil servants outside the essential services employee is now in place.