Harare – For a net food importing country with infrastructural challenges and a volatile economic environment, Zimbabwe must make fast and hard decisions to contain coronavirus, ENN reports.
Amid concerns by citizens over its preparedness, the southern African country recorded its first positive case of the deadly virus on 20 March 2020, and the patient is being managed in the resort town of Victoria Falls. With news filtering in that two new coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Harare, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to three within 24 hours, the number of infected persons may multiply within a week.
Microsoft Billionaire Bill Gates believes that if a country does a good job with testing and shutting down borders and risky amenities, the virus would be under control within 6 -1o0 weeks. For poor Zimbabwe, health authorities’ capacity to test and detect the virus is questionable after a German national who freely passed through Zimbabwe, only to test positive for COVID-19 in Namibia two days later. Moving around the capital city, ENN correspondent Carol Mvundura was confronted by educational posters on COVID-19 from the Ministry of health and Child Care, a positive step by the authorities.
However, it remains business as usual in the capital as flea markets are operating and government managed ZUPCO passenger buses are overloading and ferrying an average of eighty people per bus to various destinations. Is it not time the Zimbabwe government bans all large passenger buses from operating until the virus is contained. This would be responsible leadership by president Mnangagwa.
The business community has taken precautions on hygiene through provision of hand sanitizers to customers at entry points, but there are no traffic management systems in place to minimise numbers in shops. Innovations that promote home shopping through home delivery services must be collectively rolled out by the business community to safely serve their customers at minimal additional costs.
Schools will be closing on the 24th of March, not too bad but not good enough for a country at crossroads. In times of crisis, children must be protected at all costs, and government should have ordered all education institutions to shut doors with immediate effect.
In Zimbabwe, sports bars and night clubs are popular entertainment spots for citizens. In the wake of COVID-19, is it not time for government to also monitor and minimise activity at these interactive entertainment platforms to save a generation.
Lastly, it is time Zimbabwe shuts down all its borders, and grounds its airline to ensure that there are no new cases of COVID-19 coming into the country. In 2011, when the national population was at 14.4 million, Zimbabwe had an average of 1.7 hospital beds per thousand people. With an increasing national population, now estimated at over 16 million, Zimbabwe has an average of 1 hospital bed per thousand people. In the wake of COVID-19, which has caused havoc in more stable economies like China, Italy and USA, Zimbabwe’s unpreparedness to financially tackle COVID-19 must be its stimulus in making hard decisions that will curb the spread of this deadly virus.