‘COVID-19 restrictions to be tightened’

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John Mangwiro

BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
GOVERNMENT will soon tighten COVID-19 regulations again, especially at the country’s borders, following a spike in new cases being recorded in neighbouring South Africa.

“The regulations that will be enforced to contain the pandemic this time are different from those we have been using in the past. Government will strengthen its strategies to stop the spread of the pandemic,” Health deputy minister John Mangwiro said.

Statistics show that the country was recording an average of 63 new cases  per day, compared to 40 in the previous week.

Cabinet on Wednesday reported that the government would not relax COVID-19 regulations any further after the COVID-19 hospital bed occupancy rate increased from 1% last week to 1,6%.

There were no intensive care unit admissions countrywide.

Botswana recently detected new Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants, which are dominating the new cases being recorded in South Africa.

South Africa recorded more than 6 000 cases on Wednesday alone.

Local health experts warned of a high possibility of Zimbabwe recording higher new COVID-19 cases in the coming days.

“It is highly likely that we are going to face a similar predicament as our neighbour South Africa,” Medical and Dental Private Practitioners of Zimbabwe Association president Johannes Marisa said.

“There is a high probability that we will be in trouble with the fifth wave shortly. If we are to increase the testing capacity, we are going to see a sharp rise in the number of patients who test positive for COVID-19.”

Schools opened for the second term on Tuesday, but teachers’ representatives have warned that cases may spike in learning institutions in the next few weeks due to complacency.

“We are receiving reports that pupils are no longer wearing masks, while others no longer have sanitising facilities at their premises. It will be catastrophic if the government does not put in place measures to contain the spread of the disease,” Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said.

A survey conducted by NewsDay also revealed that members of the public were increasingly disregarding the wearing of face masks, social distancing and other measures put in place to curb the spread of the respiratory disease.

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