Matabeleland North Correspondent
HWANGE Town residents are gallivanting and partying, especially at informal beer drinking outlets commonly known as shebeens, in defiance of Covid 19 regulations.
This is despite warnings by health authorities against such practices as cases and deaths continue to rise on a daily basis.
Known high profile people in the coal mining town are known to be running the shebeens which have been existing side-by-side with
Covid-19 lockdown, where public gatherings, public drinking and other businesses are restricted.
Hwange has become a hotspot in Matabeleland North and authorities have dedicated the bulk of vaccines to the coal mining town in an attempt to ensure the urbanites follow in the footsteps of their neighbours in neighbouring Victoria Falls, also in the same district.
Victoria Falls started mass vaccination in March and to date more than 21 000 people have been vaccinated.
Health authorities say a majority of new cases being reported are of people who were not vaccinated.
Matabeleland North recorded 70 new infections on Saturday bringing the cumulative cases to 3 827 to date, a huge jump from 1 454 cases that were there on June 1 before the 3rd Delta variant wave.
There were 47 active cases and 19 deaths at that time in Matabeleland North. On Saturday the province had 1 781 active cases and 41 deaths, after three people died on the day.
On Saturday the whole country recorded 1 445 cases and 68 deaths.
Health authorities said a majority of the infected people in the province are not vaccinated.
For example, of the 70 cases recorded on Saturday, 64 were not vaccinated and all three deaths recorded in Hwange and Lupane were also not vaccinated.
Hwange has close to 400 active cases, with the vaccinated Victoria Falls having less than 200.
Dr Fungai Mvura, acting Hwange District Medical Officer appealed to residents in Hwange to get vaccinated.
“Statistics show that a majority of cases are on people that were not vaccinated. That’s why we have dedicated a majority of the dosses we got at this stage to Hwange urban, not even Hwange rural, so that we try and prevent further spread of the disease because we are getting huge numbers of new cases there,” said Dr Mvura.
She expressed concern at the prevalence of the shebeens.
Hwange residents leader Fidelis Chima is also a worried man.
“The taskforce is not doing enough, they should engage and descend hard on these shebeens especially those running them. Covid-19 has hit out town and I would want to encourage people to get vaccinated,” he said.
Health authorities have said those who test positive cannot be vaccinated until they recover.