Zimbabwe has upped preparations for a nationwide rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, with the Government having concluded two extensive studies to assess readiness for the deployment of inoculation jabs, President Mnangagwa has said
Updating the nation on the country’s COVID-19 response and containment measures at State House in Harare yesterday, the President warned against unnecessary travel and large gatherings over the festive period, this according to The Sunday Mail.
The country, said the President, was staring at losing out on the gains made in containing a widespread outbreak of the coronavirus if Zimbabweans continue to disregard COVID-19 containment measures that include enforcement of physical distancing and wearing face coverings.
Zimbabwe has recorded 12,047 cases of the coronavirus since March, with 316 people having died from the contagion.
The country has witnessed a spike in new infections over the past month, with 3 218 new cases having been recorded between November 16 and December 18.
“While a vaccine is the ultimate preventative measure, it is not available to us just yet,” said the President.
“Preparations for the deployment of a vaccine, once approved, are, however, in progress guided by two national preparedness assessments conducted in October and November 2020.
“Zimbabwe will only roll out vaccines that have been analyzed and found to be effective and safe for our population.”
He said Zimbabwe was party to the World Health Organisation led Global Access Facility — Covax — which plans to secure and distribute millions of doses of the vaccine to developing countries, once licensed and approved.
The initiative, which seeks to secure at least 220 million doses, will enable the fast and equitable distribution of the vaccine.
Provisionally, the WHO distribution mechanism seeks to proportionally allocate doses until all countries have enough doses to cover 20 percent of their population.
“The WHO, working with other global immunisation partners, has come up with a Covid-19 Global Access Facility (Covax).
“This is designed to accelerate the development and manufacture of safe, effective Covid-19 vaccines in order to guarantee rapid, fair and equitable access to vaccines for all countries.
“Zimbabwe is participating in the facility.
“In addition to this, Zimbabwe is also participating in clinical trials and vaccine research to ensure that the country’s decision is guided by local science.”
President Mnangagwa said gains made when the country initially introduced Covid-19 containment measures are being reversed as a result of increasing failure to adhere to the measures by Zimbabweans.
He said local transmissions have become the main source of infections since July.
“Some of the reasons for the increase in new cases are as follows: a lot of people not wearing face masks anymore; large gatherings with participants not adhering to recommended preventative measures such as social distancing. The country has recently witnessed large gathering at funerals and other social events where there was no social distancing;
“Monitoring visits by the Inter-Ministerial Task Force and others have clearly shown that most people, institutions and the general public, are no longer strictly adhering to recommended preventative measures. Such complacency and recklessness are therefore a big concern to us.”
President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe was staring at losing out on the gains made in containing a widespread outbreak of the coronavirus, if the country were to allow complacency to take root.
“The biggest concern and danger to our national response is the fact that people are not complying with the current Covid-19 restrictions and preventive measures,” he said.
“Today, I am urging you all to do the right thing: — wear a face mask to protect yourself and those around you.”
The Government, said the President, was guided by the findings of a recent Intra Action Review in strengthening the national Covid-19 response by improving surveillance systems, including testing, quarantine, isolation and contact tracing.
“The Government is also increasing awareness campaigns on public health measures and Covid-19 orders and restrictions to enable communities to take ownership.
“Let us bear in mind that Government response alone is not enough without the meaningful participation of communities.
“Individuals and communities must take ownership, change behaviours and follow all the recommended preventative measures.
“This is the only way that will see our country win against the pandemic.
“If we successfully stop the spread of this virus, we will be in a better position to also address the many economic challenges and impacts that this disease has caused.”
President Mnangagwa called for responsibility during the festive season.
He said people must only travel when necessary and avoid gathering in large numbers.
“It is, however, important that we avoid any unnecessary travel and gatherings and that we enjoy ourselves responsibly.
“If, however, you must travel or gather, let us be vigilant and ensure that all Covid-19 restrictions are adhered to.
“All gatherings must be kept small in line with Covid-19 restrictions.”
President Mnangagwa said the Covid-19 National Preparedness and Response Strategic Plan, which was unveiled at the onset of the contagion in Zimbabwe, remains in place and continues to guide the national response.
“On co-ordination, my Government introduced the Cabinet Inter-Ministerial Task Force that gave the national response the required highest level leadership,” he said.
“The Task Force, through its subcommittees, works with the public and private sector.
“In addition to the Task Force, my Government also introduced the Experts Advisory Committee, which works closely with the National Chief Co-ordinator, Dr Agnes Mahomva, for a scientifically rooted response.”
The President paid tribute to all frontline healthcare workers who are leading the fight against Covid-19.
Speaking separately in a pre-recorded statement shared online yesterday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa called on Zimbabweans to exercise extreme vigilance over the festive season to avoid intensifying the spread of Covid-19 in the country.
Minister Mutsvangwa said while the Government has put in place measures to help contain the spread of the virus, it was up to individuals to take necessary precautions to guard against the coronavirus.
“I am here to tell you that Covid-19 is still raging and claiming more lives,” she said.
“Far from claims that its strains have receded, the disease remains the number one enemy to human health.
“It is killing the young and old and continues to threaten our very existence.
“In keeping with World Health Organisations standards, the Zimbabwe Government has over the year contained the disease by scaling up testing, contact tracing, surveillance and enforcement.
“However, you and I should continue to play our part, do not let your guard down.
“Do it for your son, daughter, mother, father, brother and sister, all your loved ones.
“Do not be the ones to spread the disease to them.”