BY PRAISEMORE SITHOLE/GARY GERALD MTOMBENI
VICE-President Constantino Chiwenga yesterday said the country would intensify COVID-19 child vaccination programmes in preparation for schools opening next week.
Chiwenga, who doubles as Health and Child Care minister, made the remarks in Bulawayo at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair.
Schools open on May 3.
“I am happy that the country has made a lot of progress in the containment of the COVID-19 pandemic. Government started an aggressive vaccination programme in February 2021. As at April 26, 5 835 048 people had received their first dose, 3 466 916 had received their second dose and 588 414 had received the third dose,” Chiwenga said.
“We expect that when schools open and a number of our vaccination centres open, the number will accelerate much faster than in the first phase. The programme has since been extended to the 12-year age group.”
Chiwenga’s utterances follow remarks by the World Health Organisation (WHO) which urged countries to accelerate routine COVID-19 immunisation efforts.
During a media briefing yesterday, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned countries against reducing COVID-19 testing, saying it would lead to transmission and evolution.
Tedros said while just over 15 000 COVID-19 deaths were recorded last week globally, the trend should be welcomed with caution.
“As many countries reduce testing, WHO is receiving less and less information about transmission and sequencing. This makes us increasingly blind to patterns of transmission and evolution. But this virus won’t go away just because countries stop looking for it. It’s still spreading, it’s still changing, and it’s still killing. The threat of a new variant remains very real — although deaths are declining. We still don’t understand the long-term consequences of infection in those who survive,” Tedros said.
WHO noted that 18,7% of the African population has been fully vaccinated — lagging behind the global average of 58%.
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