By Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu
About a third of Covid-19 deaths in Zimbabwe occur in communities, a development that has prompted Government to update guidelines on how to handle such cases at home to avert new cases and deaths.
As of February 9, Zimbabwe had recorded 34 781 confirmed cases and 1 353 deaths.
Government has said the country is expected to receive its first batch of the Covid-19 vaccine next Monday with the second one coming at the beginning of next month.
Government has set aside US$100 million for procuring Covid-19 vaccines while the Chinese Government extended 200 000 doses of its Sinopharm vaccine to the country.
During a post-Cabinet media briefing on Tuesday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa bemoaned the high number of Covid-19 community deaths.
“It is noted that 32,8 percent of Covid-19 related deaths have been occurring in communities, while the remaining 67,2 percent have occurred in health facilities. In light of the high percentage of community deaths, the Government is working on updating guidelines for informing the public on how to manage cases isolating at home and when these cases should be taken to health facilities,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
“The recovery rate has improved to 81 percent, with 32 474 persons having tested Covid-19 positive from local transmission. The cumulative number of infected health care workers now stands at 3 718, up from 3 442.”
Minister Mutsvangwa said the production of personal protective equipment (PPE) and essential medicines is continuing and being complemented by imports.
“The enforcement of the curfew under the level four lockdown is continuing, and citizens are once again reminded of the need to observe all Covid-19 protocols and regulations in order to ensure that the nation stays on top of the situation in relation to the pandemic. The lockdown restrictions will be reviewed at the end of the two weeks extension period,” she said.
Renowned health expert, Professor Solwayo Ngwenya said the lockdown has been successful in reducing the impact of Covid-19 even though community deaths are still a cause for concern.
He urged Government to conduct more tests in communities as the deaths could have left members of the public exposed to the global disease.
“We are not testing enough people as there are lots of cases in the community who have no symptoms at all. They then complicate while at home and die, putting more people at risk,” said Prof Ngwenya.
“Some have been sent home for self-isolation but they are not given clear guidelines on what to do and they end up resorting to home remedies. People are coming to the hospital late. Covid is hence deep in the community and we need widespread testing otherwise we will record more deaths and they may increase in intensity,” he said.
He said the coming of vaccines should not in any way encourage people to relax as the global pandemic is still a threat in the country.
“We need guidelines on how people are to be discharged and follow up should be made on those people after they are discharged from hospital so that we avoid community deaths,” he added.
Regarding the Covid-19 vaccination programme, the Ministry of Health and Child Care plans to vaccinate about 60 percent of the country’s population in order to achieve herd immunity translating to 10 million people.
A development plan mapping the priority groups for rollout of the vaccine has already been developed. The Chronicle.