The reopening of schools for examination classes scheduled for July 28 has been deferred in light of the rising number of confirmed Covid-19 infections which reached 1 064 yesterday, with infections within Zimbabwean communities rising fast.
The deferment by Cabinet yesterday was part of measures that include postponement of further opening of economic sectors, localised lockdowns in hotspots and more testing in areas where infections are spiking.
Until very recently, almost all infected people were returning citizens and residents and these infections were discovered in quarantine centres. But the number of internal infections has been overtaking the imported infections in many recent daily reports.
Yesterday the Ministry of Health and Child Care announced another 30 infections, 14 among returning residents and 16 within Zimbabwe. While seven of these 16 were contacts of known cases, efforts are now being made to find the sources of the other nine.
The latest death is a child in Matabeleland South who was admitted to hospital on Saturday with pneumonia. This takes the cumulative total to 20. But a large batch of confirmed recoveries in Bulawayo (49) and Matabeleland North (3) has taken the cumulative number of confirmed recoveries to 343.
South Africa has now seen 4 172 deaths from 287 796 cases, the ninth worst number of confirmed cases in the world and is easily the most severely hit country in Africa.
Announcing the deferment of schools re-opening yesterday after the weekly Cabinet meeting, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Senator Monica Mutsvangwa said Cabinet had adopted the recommendation of the Ad-Hoc Inter-Ministerial Committee on Covid-19 as part of a tightening of current lock-down measures.
The recommendation was in a report presented by Vice President Kembo Mohadi, the committee chairperson.
“The re-opening of schools shall be deferred pending a review of the situation, while the writing of public examinations continues; private schools that have already opened without permission will be penalised,” she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa noted the restrictions in the fight to contain the spread of the pandemic will not be relaxed and President Mnangagwa “will announce comprehensive measures on the way forward regarding the country’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak”.
The Government was concerned with the increase in the numbers of Covid-19 cases and among the measures adopted will be a tightening of the current lockdown restrictions, with localised lockdowns in hotspot areas.
The further opening up of the economy has been halted; testing in communities with high cases of local transmission such as Bulawayo will be increased; and Government shall have the sole responsibility for inter-city travel with priority given to those seeking medical attention.
Two buses will be allocated to transport those returning from South Africa, the regional epicentre, that test positive in Beitbridge to isolation centres near their homes.
Cabinet also noted and approved the ongoing restructuring of the Ministry of Health and Child Care. There have been staff transfers and movement in the ministry following the departure of Dr Obadiah Moyo who was replaced by Professor Amon Murwira in an acting capacity.
Minister Mutsvangwa said Government is worried by those who are not adhering to the prescribed guidelines and cited the ongoing gathering in Manicaland of members of the Marange Apostolic sect in contravention of lockdown regulations.
“This poses high risk to the spread of Covid-19. Accordingly, Cabinet directed that the gathering should disperse forthwith,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
Meanwhile, Cabinet received and approved a presentation from Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube on the 2020 Mid-Term Budget and Economic Review he will present tomorrow.
The minister is expected to update the nation of developments have occurred in the economy following the presentation of the $8.16 billion 2020 national budget last year.