Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

‘Intercity travel drives Covid-19 infections’

By Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu and Nqobile Tshili

Intercity travel could be pushing up Covid-19 infections in Bulawayo which saw the Government impose a lockdown on the province, an official said yesterday.

Buses and pirate taxis pick up hikers along Leopold Takawira Avenue in Bulawayo yesterday
Buses and pirate taxis pick up hikers along Leopold Takawira Avenue in Bulawayo yesterday

Following a spike in Covid-19 cases, Cabinet on Tuesday directed the Vehicle Inspection Department (VID) and police to increase surveillance to enforce compliance with Covid-19 regulations for Zupco intercity and intra-urban services.

To date Bulawayo has recorded 6 237 Covid-19 cases including 262 deaths and 5 704 recoveries.

As of Tuesday, Zimbabwe had 42 714 confirmed cases, including 37 288 recoveries and 1 691 deaths.

Cabinet announced that Bulawayo’s Nkulumane, Emakhandeni and northern suburbs’ clinical districts have been placed under the localised lockdown.

Suburbs covered by the Nkulumane clinical district include Nkulumane, Pelandaba, Sizinda, Nketa, Emganwini and Barham Green.

Emakhandeni clinical district covers Cowdray Park, Njube, Luveve, Magwegwe suburbs, Pumula suburbs and Emakhandeni.

The northern suburbs district includes Mpopoma, Mzilikazi, Nguboyenja, Makokoba and the city centre.
Complacency has been blamed for the latest surge in new infections and 95 percent of the cases are due to local transmissions.

In the past five days, the country recorded about 1 639 new Covid-19 cases with a total of 45 deaths up from 209 cases and 12 deaths recorded during the first week of this month.

In an interview, Bulawayo City Council director of health services Dr Edwin Sibanda called for a ban on intercity travel saying authorities were convinced that it was contributing to the increase in Covid-19 cases being recorded in the province.

He said authorities were waiting for communication from the Government to spell out how the localised lockdown will be enforced.

“It will be very difficult to implement a partial lockdown. The best would be to put the whole of Bulawayo on lockdown and reduce intercity travel as we think it is contributing to the upsurge of our cases,” he said.

“We need to know what to do and what not to hence, we await communication from Government to guide us as we implement the localised lockdown. Normally after such an announcement a Statutory Instrument or an announcement is gazetted to spell out what should be done,” said Dr Sibanda.

He said movement of residents from one area to another makes it impossible to contain the spread of Covid-19 in the identified hotspots.

“If people are allowed to keep moving, they will keep transporting and spreading the virus. I encourage members of the public to continue practising the three things that have been emphasized from the outbreak of Covid-19,” he said.

The public are urged to observe social distance, sanitise hands and properly wear masks covering both mouth and nose.

Dr Sibanda said without following the simple regulations, the country will continue to record new infections.

“We should continue practising social distancing and these three things are effective in preventing the contraction of any Covid-19 variant be it the Indian or Brazilian one. Even if we get to the 10th wave of Covid-19, we will only be safe when we diligently practice these three things because vaccines are only effective in reducing people who will get admitted not reducing new cases.”

Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Judith Ncube said the province has noted the Cabinet decision and city’s health officials are helping to identify the city’s most affected areas.

“We know that the city health officials, when they identified the districts classified as hotspots, there are several suburbs that fall within those districts. For example, in Emakhandeni district there are several suburbs that fall under the district, suburbs such as Lobengula, Magwegwe, Luveve are included in that district. So, we need to identify the suburbs within that district as work on implementing the localised lockdown,” said Minister Ncube.

She said it was worrying that some people are still in denial on the threat posed by Covid-19, more than a year after the country recorded its first case. The Chronicle