Measures to operationalize 21-day lockdown put in place

by Innocent Mujeri

The Government has announced an avalanche of measures to be adhered to in order to fully operationalize the 21-day COVID 19 lockdown announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday.

The lockdown is set to begin at 0002 hours tomorrow.

 Briefing the media yesterday, the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Monica Mutsvangwa said a number of interventions had been made to stop the spread of COVID 19.

Minister Mutsvangwa said members of the Ministerial taskforce on COVID 19 would today travel to all provinces to hand over COVID 19 materials to Ministers of Provincial Affairs.

“Members of the Inter-Ministerial Taskforce will tomorrow (today) travel to the Provinces to update and handover materials to Ministers of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution and their provincial teams in order to bring them to speed on the actions plans they must undertake under the lockdown. This will see information on measures being implemented to combat and stop the spread of the coronavirus and also information on the 21-day lockdown cascading to the grassroots,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

On the transport sector, it was announced that all buses and commuters will cease to ferry passengers except ZUPCO and Public Service Commission (PSC) buses only. However, these buses will be disinfected throughout the day to ensure that passengers, the bus drivers and conductors are safe from COVID 19.

ZUPCO and PSC buses will only be allowed to have a carrying capacity of 50 percent of their usual carrying capacity to enable social distancing and strict timetables will be adhered to.

Minister Mutsvangwa also said private vehicles should not carry more than two passengers without a valid and convincing reason.

However, the travel restrictions were relaxed on freight transport, cargo planes and delivery trucks which were allowed to continue in operation to ensure goods and products are available to citizen.

During the press conference, it was also revealed that the local universities had scaled up efforts to assist in the fight against COVID 19 and they are currently in the process of manufacturing face masks, sanitizers, medical gowns, hand soaps and other materials.

“The country’s tertiary institutions, that is the University of Zimbabwe (UZ), Bindura University of Science Education (BUSE), Midlands State University (MSU), National University of Science and Technology (NUST), Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT), and the Harare Institute of Technology (HIT) are ready to produce medical gowns, hand sanitizers, hand soaps and face masks.

“As of yesterday, Chinhoyi University of Technology had produced twelve thousand (12 000) face masks and is working on producing 10 000 sanitizers and 10 000 hand soaps,” announced Minister Mutsvangwa.

The UZ, BUSE and HIT have the capacity to produce a combined 6 000 litres of sanitizers per day and are currently working towards this.

The UZ also have the capacity to manufacture 60 000 face masks per month while MSU has the capacity to produce 42 000 litres of hand sanitizers and 10 000 face masks per month.

The Government further announced that aid and relief programmes would continue to service 760 000 households who are currently benefiting. However, aid distribution points will be increased in order to minimize large gatherings.

It was also announced that the national Registrar’s offices will be closed during the entire period of the lockdown with the exception for the purposes of issuing burial orders only.

However, those working in the electricity distribution, water supply, sewage and sanitation, fuel and LP gas supply as well as ICT will be exempted from the lockdown.

The exemption was also extended to critical services and productive activities to support the health and safety of citizens including manufacturers of health-related products, agricultural and food supply related operations shall remain functional.

Tourists intending to visit Zimbabwe have been urged to postpone their visit to a later date.

Zimbabwe, like many other countries, is battling the plague of COVID 19 which has claimed many lives around the world, including one Zimbabwean journalist, Zororo Makamba, who succumbed to the disease last Monday.

Due to the gravity and seriousness of the COVID 19, President Mnangagwa declared a total lockdown be effected starting from tomorrow to minimize the spread of the virus.

A number of measures, including closure of borders, ban on gatherings of more than 50 as well as urging high standards of hygiene were put in place to stop the spread of COVID 19 pandemic.