HARARE, ZIMBABWE - MARCH 16: Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa during the arrival of the shipment of Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines from China at Harare International Airport on March 16, 2021 in Harare, Zimbabwe. Today's shipment is in addition to a batch of 200,000 doses of donated Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine received last month. Zimbabwe is one of a dozen African countries to receive donated vaccines from China. (Photo by Tafadzwa Ufumeli/Getty Images)

Harare – Zimbabwe is experiencing a surge in Covid-19 cases and the immediate enforcement of a nationwide lockdown will save lives, ENN reports.

In the last seven days, Zimbabwe has recorded a daily average of 666 new positive cases of Covid-19. For the period 14 to 27 June,2021, a total of 6,483 new cases of Covid-19 have been reported in Zimbabwe.

In response to the surging numbers, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) president called on government to implement a 30-day national lockdown to flatten the curve. Denford Mutashu bemoaned the lack of discipline in the country as a number of citizens were not adhering to Covid-19 protocols on wearing masks, social distancing and restricting gatherings. This poses a health hazard to a country with a fragile national health delivery system. The Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe has expressed reservations over calls for a national lockdown by the retail body – CZR on account of business viability. However, a closer look into the situation gives credence to calls for a national lockdown, considering the huge health and recovery costs to be incurred by Zimbabwe in the event of a full blown Covid-19 crisis.

In a national address on 27 June 2021, South Africa president Cyril Ramaphosa announced that South Africa will move to an adjusted level 4 lockdown as the country struggles against the third wave of Covid-19 infections. “The restrictions are necessary to curb the high rate of infections and relieve pressure on the healthcare sector”, said Ramaphosa as he confirmed that ICU measures in the country were now in short supply. South Africa’s health delivery system is far superior to Zimbabwe’s healthcare system, but the country is struggling to contain the new Covid-19 variant (Delta), which has been identified in five major provinces. Consequently, Ramaphosa announced a ban on all indoor and outdoor gatherings, as well as the sale of alcohol for the next 14 days. Restaurants will only be allowed to save takeaways and all schools and contact universities in South Africa will be closed this week. In neighbouring Zambia, with an average confirmed new Covid-19 cases at 2,791 per day over the last 7-days, the new Delta variant is causing panic as health authorities try to contain the surging numbers.

It is from this perspective, coupled by the low efficacy levels of Chinese vaccines that Zimbabwe needs to be proactive in controlling the spread of the new Covid-19 variant in the country to complement its vaccination efforts. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe was plunged into mourning on Sunday following the death of retired Major General Clever Shadreck Chiramba. The top soldier was a veteran of the liberation struggle and a former commander of Two Infantry Brigade. He succumbed to Covid-19 related illness at a local hospital in Harare at the age of 66.

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