By Bongani Ndlovu
Government has sent inspectors to schools in Zimbabwe to assess their readiness to reopen for the Second Term and has set aside $368.2 million to fund the enforcement of Level 4 lockdown measures.
More stringent measures have been added to ensure public compliance in the face of escalating Covid-19 infections and deaths.
This was revealed by Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Monica Mutsvangwa during a post-Cabinet briefing yesterday.
Minister Mutsvangwa said Cabinet resolved that exemption mechanisms (such as exemption letters), which were used during the first lockdown in 2020, will be reactivated with immediate effect.
Stiffer penalties will be imposed for violations of Covid-19 restrictions, including the withdrawal of business operating licences.
Minister Mutsvangwa said Government was preparing for the opening of the Second Term, inspecting schools for their preparedness and holding Covid-19 workshops for teachers and non-teaching staff.
“With regard to primary and secondary education, the nation is advised that in preparation for the opening of schools for the Second Term, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Child Care, has instituted the following contingency measures; Inspection visits being carried out to assess the state of preparedness at all boarding schools, high enrolment day schools and schools with very limited infrastructure; Ensuring adequate WASH provisions at every school; Completion of Covid-19 Infection Prevention and Control training workshops for teaching and non-teaching staff; Confirmation of Covid-19 essential supplies in all districts,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
She said the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education is also working on modalities to enable a blend of face-to-face classroom learning, remote learning at home and in communities, as well as alternative learning platforms, such as e-learning, radio and television.
Minister Mutsvangwa said provincial reports on the Covid-19 situation were made following visits to Mashonaland Central, Manicaland, Matabeleland South, Midlands and Mashonaland West by senior Government officials.
She said from the findings, funerals were identified as super spreaders of Covid-19, there is a shortage of PPEs, misinformation on vaccines about their alleged negative effects and shortage of health care workers at some stations.
According to the report, Minister Mutsvangwa said, some district hospitals, such as Nyanga and Chipinge require bulk oxygen tanks, while some like Zvimba in Mashonaland West, Plumtree and Gwanda in Matabeleland South require functional isolation centres.
“Construction works at Mvurwi Hospital in Mashonaland Central Province should be expeditiously completed to meet the current rising demand.
“Funerals have become major spreaders within the provinces, the Environmental Health Workers and Police are upping their game in the enforcement of the mandatory numbers. While village health workers are playing their part in educating villagers, we implore traditional leaders to be more visible and forceful in the enforcement of lockdown regulations,” she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa said Cabinet noted the reports and assured the nation that measures are being put in place to reduce the burden of the Covid-19 diseases on our citizens and to ensure that lives will not be unnecessarily lost.
“Given the above challenges, Cabinet has directed that Treasury urgently releases the first tranche of ZW$368.2 million it had committed towards funding the enforcement of Level 4 lockdown measures. This will reinforce the current efforts of containing the spread of Covid-19.
“The nation is advised that the exemption mechanism which were used during the first lockdown in 2020 will be reactivated with immediate effect. Stiffer penalties will be imposed for violations of Covid-19 restrictions, including the withdrawal of business operating licences,” said Minister Mutsvangwa. The Chronicle