Harare, (New Ziana) – Health and Child Care Minister, Dr Constantino Chiwenga said on Friday the current 30-day Level 4 lockdown may not be extended if there is progress in containing spread of the pandemic.
But the country has in the past two weeks seen a surge in Covid-19 infections, which stood at 25 368 cases and 636 deaths on Thursday.
Dr Chiwenga, who is also Vice President, acknowledged the negative impact of lockdowns on the lives of citizens, but said they were inspired by citizens’ failure to adhere to set prevention guidelines.
“If all our people maintained a positive attitude towards measures to combat the coronavirus, there was not going to be any need for imposition of a national lockdown,” he said.
“I am aware that lockdown measures do hurt the socio-economic livelihoods, freedoms, rights and liberties of individuals.”
Over 10 000 people have been arrested for violating Covid-19 regulations since the beginning of the year.
“Honestly, would you require security forces to persuade you to conform to some of these basic guidelines,” he asked.
“We are not interested in arresting our people, therefore I urge you to reawaken internal discipline.”
Citizens must not slacken, he said but continue to observe guidelines such as wearing masks, observing social distancing and sanitization.
Dr Chiwenga said the hike in new infections posed a threat to the health system, but stressed that the institutions designated to deal with the coronavirus patients were not yet overwhelmed.
“Nonetheless, let me reassure citizens that Zimbabwe’s public and private health institutions still have adequate capacity to offer health services to all patients,” he said.
Only two to three percent of people infected by Covid-19 have required specialized treatments, while about 13 have been discharged within three days of admission and 85 percent have only required self-isolation.
“However, if the need arises in future, my ministry may consider options of increasing facilities currently designated for Covid-19 or designate more hospitals to take in patients,” he said.
“In a worst case scenario, that has so far not manifested, all hospitals in the country may be directed to take in citizens affected by Covid-19.”
Meanwhile, Dr Chiwenga said vaccination against Covid-19 will be voluntary, but will only begin once safety concerns regarding the vaccines have been fully interrogated.
The country is set to access vaccines under a World Health Organization facility.
Various conspiracy theories have surrounded the vaccines with some discouraging people from getting them on various religious and health grounds.