Opinion: Mnangagwa Must Extend Lockdown
16 May 2020
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By Wilbert Mukori| As of today, Friday 15 May 2020, Zimbabwe has 42 confirmed covid-19 cases, 13 have recovered, 4 deaths and 25 active cases, none of whom are in hospital.
The country imposed a 3-week total nationwide lockdown 30 March 2020 with 7 confirmed cases. The lockdown was eased to level 2 and extended by 2 weeks. The 2-week end 17 May and authorities will now have to decide whether to extend the lockdown or end it.
If we assume that the government has been testing aggressively as it should and it promised to then imposing a nationwide lockdown does not make any sense when the number of new cases has gone from 34 to 42 in two weeks in a country with a population of 16 million and the majority of the cases have a history of having travelled outside the country.
It would make a lot of sense to restrict movement of people in those provinces with reported covid-19 and also in and out of those provinces. Those provinces which have had no reported cases should be allowed to carry on as normal.
The level 2 lockdown allows most economic activity to go ahead but not the informal sector activities. It is clear that there has been no meaningful adherence to the physical distancing in the shops and people queuing to get on the buses, in the buses, etc. It is therefore unfair that vendors have been singled out when everyone else is allowed to operate violating the physical distancing rules.
The vendors are generally the poorest of the poor and they have no political voice and hence are the easiest to pick upon!
No one should have to face the impossible choice of starving or violate the lockdown restrictions and face the brutality of the state! If Mnangagwa is going to extend the lockdown on 17 May 2020, then government must have a demonstrative plan to make sure all those who need such basic needs as food, water and medicine are all going to get it!
There is growing evidence to suggest that this government is not testing for covid-19 as aggressively as it should. Some provinces such as Midlands and Masvingo had 3 and 0 tests carried out in 15 May report and have consistently reported low tests. It is inconceivable that there have been no reported deaths with covid-19 like symptoms in these provinces.
It seems Zimbabwe has not been testing aggressively to keep the covid-19 cases and deaths as low as possible. The low covid-19 figures will give the impression the country has the virus under control when in reality the virus is spreading even faster than it should otherwise. If people knew that malaria patients are in fact covid-19 patients, for example, then they will be a lot cautious than otherwise.
Covid-19 is a virus just like flu and winter is flu season. Watch out!
The tragedy for Zimbabwe is the country has imposed a nationwide lockdown too early and, because the lockdown was poorly planned, it failed to stop the virus spreading. By failing to test and track covid-19 cases aggressively nation has failed react and stop the virus spreading far and wide.
Covid-19 has wreaked economic and humanitarian havoc the world over. Even those nations with vast economic wealth and five-star health care services have been hit hard economically and their health care services have been stretched to the limit and many people have died of the virus.
40 years of gross mismanagement and rampant corruption meant Zimbabwe was an impoverished nation whose health care had all but collapse. The country does not even have clean running water even in urban centres so people can wash their hands regularly, a basic covid-19 hygiene requirement. So, we know the country is going to be hit particularly hard.
The worst case scenario projected covid-19 death toll in the developed countries is 0.1% of the population. In most developing countries the figure will be ten times that, 1%. Given Zimbabwe’s sorry economic state and Zanu PF’s continued blundering incompetence in the handling of this pandemic, the country will be very lucky to get away with 2% or 320 000 death rate!