A two-week local lockdown for Kwekwe, Redcliff and surrounding areas with a 7pm to 6am district curfew has been ordered by Government to contain the spread of Covid-19 variant B.1.617, first detected in India, when a resident of the Midlands city died last week after being infected by the new strain.
Genomic-sequencing test results have confirmed that the resident was infected with this strain. The exact number of his contacts has not been verified although they are all believed to be residents of Kwekwe.
Government decided to control the geographical spread of the variant virus by restricting movements in the Midlands city to avoid a spike of infections and give local health facilities a strong chance of bringing the variant under control by tracking down immediate contacts and with the other measures enhancing the chances that any chain of infection can be broken.
So far there has been no outbreak of the variant and by acting swiftly and early, the health authorities want to choke off any chain of infection before it can cause an outbreak.
The lockdown covers the entire district, which is the city of Kwekwe, town of Redcliff and the surrounding farming areas in Kwekwe Rural District Council.
Zimbabwe has so far kept the infection rates, and thus the death rates, from Covid-19 low through early and effective responses. The new variant is more infectious, that is, it spreads more easily. India has so far been the hardest hit with rapidly rising infection rates that have resulted in a greatly increased number of fatalities in recent weeks.
In a statement last night, Minister of Health and Child Care Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga said on top of the escalated response mechanism to contain the new variant announced early this week, Government was augmenting it with a localised lockdown.
The further measures are: health education continued; a local lockdown of Kwekwe district for two weeks effective from yesterday with a curfew from 7pm to 6am; business hours have been cut to 8am to 5pm; visitors are banned at boarding schools and all day schools must observe strict Covid-19 school protocols; all bars, drinking places, beerhalls and bottle stores are closed; all gatherings such as weddings, church services and all other public and private groupings are banned; all funerals must be supervised by health personnel and should not gather more than 30 people.
“Travellers through Kwekwe are strongly being advised to spend as little time as possible in Kwekwe during the next two weeks,” said VP Chiwenga.
Other measures to contain included case investigation and contact tracing, health education, disinfection of supermarkets, Amaveni dumpsite, pump station, Kadenhe home, Old Gokwe Road, Amaveni suburb, Junk Yard and National Test Seed pavements.
VP Chiwenga said quarantine of positive cases and close contacts, risk communication and community engagement, community awareness and campaigns were intensified. There was also screening of school children that were contacts.
Speaking at his offices earlier in the day yesterday while officially launching a nationwide campaign to introduce Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine into routine immunisation in Zimbabwe, VP Chiwenga said Government was not losing focus on the ongoing Covid-19 vaccination programme which was receiving timely boosts of new vaccine arrivals and increasing uptake.
“We continue to urge our people to get vaccinated against Covid-19 at their earliest opportunity, especially as we see and hear reports of a third wave of the deadly pandemic in other countries.
“Even as we report fewer and fewer cases, we advise our people to continue practising all recommended prevention behaviours as the Covid-19 pandemic is far from over,” said VP Chiwenga.