By Mashudu Netsianda
Government has given churches the green light to resume physical services with only congregants fully-vaccinated against Covid-19 allowed to attend while preparations for reopening of schools are underway.
Under the level four lockdown, which President Mnangagwa extended on Monday by another two weeks, public gatherings remain banned save for funerals, which are limited to not more than 30 people.
Churches cancelled public services in compliance with lockdown regulations to combat the spread of the deadly disease and resorted to virtual services.
In her post-Cabinet briefing yesterday, the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa said Government had given churches the green light to resume physical services subject to adherence to the Ministry of Health and Child Care and World Health Organisation (WHO) protocols.
“Cabinet wishes to inform the public that churches can now allow sit-in congregants under the following conditions: only congregants who have received two doses of the vaccine are allowed to attend, all Ministry of Health and Child Care and WHO protocols are adhered to,” she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa said congregants including church leaders who violate the conditions risk being arrested.
She said assessment on the state of preparedness for the safe reopening of schools is ongoing across all provinces.
“The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has redoubled efforts towards the targeted provision of tents, additional furniture, reliable water sources, ablution facilities, and the decongestion of teacher accommodation. Testing for Covid-19 is also being escalated in communities,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
Schools, which were initially scheduled to open on June 28 for the second term, remain closed following a spike in Covid-19 cases in the country.
The country is in the middle of a third wave which has seen an increase in new infections and deaths due to the fast-spreading Delta variant.
About 80 percent of Covid-19 cases being recorded in the country is due to the variant. Nearly 4 000 people have died of the disease nationally.
President Mnangagwa warned on Monday that Zimbabwe faces the threat of a fourth wave being experienced in other countries and urged citizens to comply with Covid-19 prevention protocols.
Minister Mutsvangwa said although the number of infections in the country has slightly gone down, more efforts are required to contain the third wave of the disease.
“Cabinet noted that the number of infections decreased slightly during the week under review, with 6 781 cases recorded, compared to the 11 652 reported the previous week. This reflected a 42 percent decrease, and indicated that the infection prevention and control measures are yielding results,” she said.
“The only exception is the Midlands province which is experiencing another surge. Concerted efforts will be made to address the situation in that province as well as in other known Covid-19 hotspots.”
Minister Mutsvangwa said work to increase bed capacity at several Covid-19 treatment centres throughout the country is continuing.
She said local companies and universities have enough raw materials to increase the production of personal protective equipment as well as medicines for managing Covid-19.
“In order to ensure provision of water, 12 new boreholes were drilled and 126 others were rehabilitated. Seven handwashing facilities were established at public places, while 95 hygiene promotion sessions were conducted,” she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa said vaccination in border towns, other hotspots and peoples’ markets is progressing as scheduled.
“Two million syringes were procured from Sinopharm of China and received on 7 August, 2021. The vaccination programme will be ramped up in provinces with low uptake such as Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland West provinces, and Chitungwiza where progress has been slow,” she said.
As of August 10, 2021, a total of 1 912 592 (22,3 percent) people had received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, while 1 061 238 got the second dose, translating to a national coverage of 12,3 percent. The Chronicle