RISKY behaviour observed during the Easter holiday could invite a third wave of Covid-19 infections in the country due to non-compliance to prevention measures, especially by nightclub proprietors and patrons.
During the holiday, Chronicle observed that there was rampant violation of Covid-19 prevention measures with some members of the public converging at nightclubs that are operating illegally.
Government has not given the green light to nightclubs to resume operations but some of them were open in Bulawayo during the course of the holiday. On several occasions, nightclubs were raided by cops forcing some patrons to drink from cars. There was also violation of the 10PM to 5:30AM curfew hours.
Bars and nightclubs have remained closed with authorities saying they could be Covid-19 super spreaders. Health experts have warned that the breach of Covid-19 prevention regulations could trigger a third wave of infections as was observed during the festive season which led to a deadly second wave in January.
Acting Bulawayo provincial medical director Dr Welcome Mlilo said the city still has active Covid-19 cases, hence any risky behaviour could result in the spike of new cases.
“We still have active cases in the country and in Bulawayo as well. So as long as we still have active cases, the potential of a third wave is still a reality. Coupled with violation of Covid-19 regulation guidelines, it only means that we are not very far from another spike of the third wave,” said Dr Mlilo.
He said it was no longer acceptable for members of the public to be involved in behaviour that could expose them to the virus, saying citizens should learn from past experiences.
“We all know what works and doesn’t work with Covid-19. We know that masks are a crucial preventative measure, so we encourage people to continue wearing their masks appropriately covering both the nose and mouth, we know social distancing works. We know that those who have active Covid-19 infections are isolated. We know that there are super spreader events such as bars and also other potential super spreader events are funerals, so it’s important that we rely on the knowledge that we have accumulated so far,” he said.
Dr Mlilo said instead of sliding back and not following regulations the country citizens should be moving forward with the Covid-19 vaccination programme being rolled across the country to achieve herd immunity.
Bulawayo-based medical expert and a member of the #IAmForByoFightingCovid-19 movement, Dr Ritta Dlodlo urged the public to be vigilant in view of new variants.
“We could have another wave, a total wave or a small wave. The number of cases could increase and the number of deaths could also increase,” said Dr Dlodlo.
She said citizens should appreciate that the country is now being affected by the Covid-19 variant which was first recorded in South Africa.
“I think it is estimated to be about 50 to 60 percent more easily spread than the original Covid-19 variant. So, it’s a wild type variant and also, it’s now the dominant type of Covid-19 virus in Zimbabwe. I think it spreads so much easily and this just means we have to follow the public health measures even more diligently than before in an attempt to arrest its transmission,” said Dr Dlodlo.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said police are aware that some bars illegally opened during the holidays across the city.
He said police were in the process of arresting people running the businesses that were illegally operating.
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police warns all beer-hall and nightclub operators who breached the Government’s Covid-19 regulations that arrests are being effected with appropriate action now in motion to ensure that the Liquor Licensing Board complies with the Government’s stance to revoke all licences for operators who are not complying with the law,” he said.
“Operators who defied the law during the Easter Holiday in Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare and other towns are being dealt with. Police will ensure that licences confiscated are handed over to the relevant Government arms for the stipulated penalties to be effected.”
Asst Comm Nyathi applauded members of the public for availing information that has led to the arrest of some of the Covid-19 regulations violators.
“The public is, therefore, urged to continue supplying information of these errant beer-hall, bar or nightclub operators for decisive actions to be taken. Police will avail statistics on the operation in due course,” said Asst Comm Nyathi. — @nqotshili.