Mukudzei Chingwere-Herald Reporter
Schools reopen on Monday next week for examination classes and a week later for the rest of the grades and forms, while the national vaccination campaign has been extended to everyone aged 14 and over.
In addition, restaurants can allow fully vaccinated customers to sit in for meals.
The major relaxations in the Level Four lockdown and the extension of the vaccinations to most teenagers were announced after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting by Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa.
Cabinet had noted with satisfaction the preparations for the resumption of classes in schools and so agreed on the reopening on Monday next week for examination classes and on September 6 for the non-examinations classes.
“Inter-city and intra-city transport for learners will be allowed during schools re-opening periods, subject to close monitoring by law enforcement agencies,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
The new dates for school terms and school holidays will be announced soon.
Collaboration between the Ministries of Primary and Secondary Education, and of Health and Child Care had buttressed the Covid-19 prevention and management systems at schools.
“The two ministries met with provincial teams to evaluate progress in the implementation of the joint operational plan of the standard guidelines for the coordinated prevention and management of Covid-19 at learning Institutions.
“The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education also met with teacher organisations and deliberated on the safe re-opening of schools, among other issues,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
This means all schools will have in place adequate rules and equipment to ensure that pupils and staff are protected against Covid-19.
Restaurants, badly hit by the higher level lockdowns, now join churches in being able to give normal service to the fully vaccinated, that is the more than 1,5 million Zimbabweans who have had both doses.
Patrons who want a sit-down meal will have to present their vaccination cards as they enter and obey strict Covid-19 protocols which will include sanitisation and social distancing.
Despite the rising numbers of vaccinated and the falling infection and death rates in the third wave, Cabinet stressed that Covid-19 was still a threat and urged everyone to continue adhering to World Health Organisation protocols and national guidelines to totally contain this third wave and thwart the possibility of a fourth one.
Vaccination, until now limited to those aged at least 18, would now be extended to those aged 14 to 17 on the advice of scientists. This means that most teenagers can now be vaccinated.
She said Zimbabwe has already acquired 13 million doses out of the 20 million required in order to achieve the initial target of 10 million vaccinated people, about two thirds of the population and the initial estimate for herd immunity.
As the public sector has ramped up its vaccination teams, the Ministry of Health and Child Care would be doing more to bring in the private sector into the vaccination drive.
This would involve churches, universities and colleges as well as accelerating outreach campaigns taking advantage of the integrated expanded programme for immunisation.
This immunisation programme has been ensuring all children are vaccinated against a swathe of childhood illnesses. But it takes vaccination teams into the heart of communities so that Covid-19 vaccines can be given to the adults.
“To speed up the vaccination programme in Chitungwiza town and help alleviate the shortage of health personnel, the Chitungwiza Municipality nursing staff has since been transferred to be part of the Ministry of Health and Child Care establishment.”
Deliveries of vaccine are going well with 2,5 million doses received between August 19 and August 24 and more shots are on the way.
“During the month of September, the country is expecting to receive 2 500 000 million doses of vaccines under direct purchase, and 943 200 doses under the COVAX programme.
“Government wishes to assure the nation that it has sufficient financial resources to procure all the required vaccines,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
“The Chinese Government has donated another 500 000 doses, while the Serbian Government has made a donation of 30 000 Sputnik V vaccine doses.
“In the spirit of regional cooperation and solidarity, the Government will donate 20 000 doses of vaccines to the Government of Namibia.”
Spokesperson in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Mr Taungana Ndoro said a decision on school terms as well as calendar spelling out closing dates will be announced soon.
“The ministry executive is in communities preparing for the resumption of classes as well as encouraging everyone to come back to school. The Permanent Secretary will release the schools calendar possibly before the end of the week,” said Mr Ndoro.