No compensation for unvaccinated health workers Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa

Mukudzei Chingwere-Herald Reporter

Unvaccinated health workers who contract Covid-19 in the line of duty after July 14 will no longer receive special compensation which the Government has been paying those affected, while the 80 percent who have been vaccinated remain covered if they fall sick.

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting that the Government had been paying US$1 000 and US$600 depending on grade for each health worker who falls sick but now those who remain unvaccinated are considered a health threat to colleagues and patients.

Last week, Treasury released $75 million towards the compensation. 

Of the 4 444 health workers so far infected,  432 have already received their payouts.

The Health Services Board (HSB) has approved the payments to another 2 196 with funds already allocated able to cover about 1 367 workers so further allocations are required.

“Noting that the frontline staff were given an opportunity to vaccinate ahead of others, the nation is advised that a considerable number of frontline workers, 20 percent, have still not presented themselves for vaccination,” said Minister Mutsvangwa. 

“Given the risk this poses not only to other workers but also to patients, Cabinet set 14 July 2021 as the deadline for the vaccination of the frontline workers. After this date, those who not vaccinated will not receive Covid-19 insurance payouts. For the avoidance of doubt, those vaccinated staff members who test positive will, however, still be eligible for the Covid-19 insurance pay out,” she                                                                     said. 

Minister Mutsvangwa said Vice President Constantino Chiwenga — in his capacity as Health and Child Care  Minister — updated Cabinet on the procurement of vaccines, which is on a positive trajectory with Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube saying last week that adequate funds were available.

Besides the 500 000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines that arrived last Saturday, bringing the total number of doses delivered to 2,26 million, Sen Mutsvangwa said two million doses of Sinovac vaccine would arrive by the end of this week, bringing the total to 4,26 million.

A further 1,5 million doses were in the middle of next month, another 1,5 million doses by August and another 1,5 million doses by September. Vaccination rates are already approaching 25 000 doses a day, roughly 750 000 doses a month, and those in charge have already been talking about taking the rate quickly to over 1 million doses a month.

“Cabinet would like to reassure the nation that measures are in place to safeguard health. In addition, the nation is advised that travellers coming from countries with high risk of the alpha and delta Covid-19 variants of concern shall be quarantined in a designated hotel at their own expense and have PCR test conducted at their own expense on arrival, tested on day three, tested on day five, and tested on day 10.”

Sen Mutsvangwa said Cabinet noted with concern that the surge reported the previous week continued with a total of 3 882 cases recorded during last week, compared to 1 239 new cases reported the previous week. 

“This represents a 213 percent increase.  The majority of cases were recorded in Mashonaland West with 1 798, Mashonaland Central with 1 375, and Midlands with 493.”

She said the public was strongly discouraged from visiting or transiting through hotspots: Mashonaland West now has hotspots at Kariba, Karoi, Makonde, Chinhoyi, Mhangura, Chidamoyo, Magunje and Chirundu; in Bulawayo Nkulumane Emakhandeni and Northern Suburbs; in Mashonaland Central, Mount Darwin; in Masvingo, Chiredzi; and in Midlands, Kwekwe. 

Minister Mutsvangwa also noted an increase in hospital admissions owing to Covid-19. As of Sunday, there were 353 hospitalised Covid-19 cases. Of these 40 were new admissions, 97 were asymptomatic, 209 were mild to moderate, 44 severe and 3 were in the intensive care unit.

She also highlighted the intensification of control measures by law enforcement agents anchored on enforcing adherence to the prescribed containment measures as well as heightened patrols along the country’s borders.

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