As the daily number of new Covid-19 cases continues falling, the Government is considering reopening schools, especially as infections are concentrated in the 30 to 40 age group, so risks to school children are lower.
Schools closed on June 4 and were set to open for the second term on June 28. However, reopening was postponed because by then the third wave was continuing to gather steam.
The Government, through President Mnangagwa, is still to announce when schools will open but the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has been working to ensure that as soon as the go-ahead is given, it will be ready.
Community Working Group on Health director Mr Itai Rusike said in preparation for the reopening of schools, communities should follow guidelines and protocols on Covid-19 to lessen transmission.
“The situation in the schools should be certified safe by the Government with all the schools having met the required standards necessary to be deemed safe to reopen. Communities should continue to be encouraged to be vaccinated in order for us to achieve herd immunity in the shortest possible time,” he said.
Mr Rusike said despite the decrease in new infections, the nation should not lower its guard as it was not yet out of the woods.
The Ministry of Health and Child Care weekly Covid-19 report shows that there has been a decline in new infections this week.
“The proportion of (infections) children of school going age five to 19 years, mostly at the primary and secondary school, stood at 11,1 percent. The Government is considering opening schools if the current decline in the number of new cases continues,” read the report.
A total of 2 780 new confirmed cases and 147 deaths were reported from August 14 to 20.
“The 147 deaths reported in the last 7 days were from Harare 53, Bulawayo 28, Manicaland 17, Mashonaland West 11, Mashonaland Central 9, Midlands 8, Mashonaland East 6, Masvingo 6, Matabeleland North 5 and Matabeleland South 4.
Five provinces contributed to 66 percent of the cumulative cases: Harare 21,8, Mashonaland West 13,1, Mashonaland East 10,5, Bulawayo 10,3, and Manicaland 10,2, said the statement.
The weekly report also shows that trends have not changed much with men accounting for 56 percent of deaths.
“A total of 147 deaths were reported this week, the number of deaths decreased compared to 268 deaths reported during the previous week. Community deaths account for 31,2 percent of the Covid-19 related deaths, a slight increase from 31 percent reported the previous week,” read the report.
In the past week the country recorded zero imported cases. South Africa however accounts for 81,6 percent of all the imported cases that have been reported in Zimbabwe since the outbreak of Covid-19.
As of 20 August 2021, local cases constituted 98,5 percent of the total Covid-19 cases reported in the country. The number of countries contributing to the imported cases are 27, of which South Africa contributes 81,6 percent of the total cases. Matabeleland South accounts for the highest number 763 of imported cases.
Health expert Professor Solwayo Ngwenya said the community deaths were due to the fact that some people wait until it is too late to go to a clinic or hospital. So many of those at risk of dying at home are those with underlying conditions as the prevalent delta variant can worsen some conditions like hypertension and diabetes.
People tended to go to hospital after trying home remedies that were not working. Some are not aware that they have the virus especially those with underlying conditions like diabetes and hypertension because the delta variant can cause sugar levels to rise and then people die without knowing they are positive,” said Prof Ngwenya.
“Some have relatives that are asymptomatic and they still visit each other especially during funerals defying what we have been told by the Government. These community deaths are unfortunate and if we do not change, we will continue recording more of these.”
Confirming the rise in cases among younger people in the 30-to-40 age group, he said: “More and more young people are being infected. They were once strong and resistant; they were asymptomatic but now they are getting sicker and dying in other countries. This variant is affecting almost all ages, said Prof Ngwenya.
He said it was unfortunate that the variant is now infecting youngsters who usually do not adhere to Covid-19 health protocols thereby spreading the virus.