Although infection rates are starting to fall they are still very high and Zimbabwe will remain under the level four lockdown announced by President Mnangagwa last month.
Schools will remain closed although Government is continuing with preparations for the safe resumption of classes once dates for reopening have been announced.
While average infection rates have been falling slowly for almost two weeks, they are still more than 50 times the rate seen between the waves, and the number of active cases and the average daily death rate are only now starting to level off. While the wave is starting to recede, any relaxation could see a renewed surge and an even bigger wave.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said this week the lockdown measures would remain in place until President Mnangagwa announced otherwise.
The Victoria Falls and Kazungula area, where vaccination rates have now surpassed the levels required for herd immunity, will be getting a different set of lockdown measures, and the border posts in that prime tourism belt are being opened for vaccinated tourists to allow for the resuscitation of the tourism industry.
Already more than 80 percent of Victoria Falls adults have been vaccinated, meaning 64 percent of the entire population of the city has been vaccinated, so herd immunity is in place.
“There is a varied lockdown in Victoria Falls because of the number of the people vaccinated there which makes herd immunity a reality,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
Under the Level Four lockdown imposed to combat the third and worst wave of Covid-19 infection, President Mnangagwa announced a ban on intercity travel, a tighter curfew from 6.30pm to 6am, reduction of business hours 8am to 3.30 pm and workforces on the premises of non-essential entities and businesses reduced to 40 percent and preferably the 25 percent now being used by Government.
Earlier last month, in the first reaction to the initial increases in infection rates, all social and religious gatherings were banned, with funerals the sole exception but limited to 30 people, and while the economy could stay open enforcement of the standard precautions were enhanced and the speed up of the vaccination programme initially centred on getting all in the large markets, the “tobacco town” hot spots, border towns and the agricultural marketing depots protected.
Schools were supposed to have opened on June 28 but owing to the surge in infection, the opening was initially deferred for two weeks, then another two weeks on July12 and now deferred again as infection rates are still so high.
Minister Mutsvangwa said schools would remain closed, but urged parents to complement Government efforts in preparing for schools opening. “Schools remain closed, but Government advises parents to prepare PPEs for their children for the eventuality of schools opening in the future,” she said.
Primary and Secondary Education Minister Cain Mathema yesterday told Parliamentarians during a question and answer session in the National Assembly that preparations for the opening of schools were ongoing and Government would draw lessons from past experiences to ensure safety of learners in the institutions.
“It is not the first time we have had this challenge. We have had this pandemic since last year so we will go back to the experiences we have had before and we will learn from there.
“We will also learn from other countries but we want to assure the nation that we will do everything in our power to ensure the children’s safety,” he said.
Minister Mathema was requested to issue a ministerial statement on their state of preparedness ahead of schools re-opening and he said he would notify Parliament on any new development.