By Leopold Munhende
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s decision to ease COVID-19 lockdown restrictions last week has been described as premature as it should have been implemented after the government had fully equipped public health centres.
This was said Tuesday by Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC), a local civic group, which also blasted the new regulations imposed by government in transferring its obligations of testing citizens for COVID-19 to employers.
In a statement, CiZC said government should only consider easing the lockdown restrictions after retooling health institutions, making contact tracing easier, and the release of financial aid to vulnerable communities.
“The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) notes with concern the premature lifting of lockdown restrictions by the government of Zimbabwe without meeting the six conditions prescribed by the World Health Organisation for lifting lockdown restrictions,” CiZC said.
“Zimbabwe has not conducted sufficient tests and contact tracing to warrant easing of restrictions, in fact, the country has been dogged by limited test kits in public health facilities.
“By transferring the burden of testing and public safety to corporates, government, in our view has abdicated its social responsibility and constitutional duty as required by section 76(1) of the Zimbabwe Constitution.
“In our view, the premature lifting of the lockdown lacks a coherent strategy to deal with the spread and impact of COVID-19, and the government has delegated its duty of containing the spread by requiring corporates to conduct testing and enforcing social distancing at the workplace.”
According to new government regulations, all companies, which have been authorised to reopen, are required to source for own test kits and periodically test employees. Private medical centres carrying out COVID-19 tests are demanding US$25 per person.
“We reiterate that in the interest of public health and safety, the government should only consider relaxing the lockdown restrictions after satisfactorily meeting the six preconditions set by WHO.”
Zimbabwe has conducted 13 329 tests to date with 34 confirmed cases among them, five recoveries and four deaths.