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Low community risk perception inhibiting Covid-19 fight – health expert

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By Staff Reporter


Mutare: Low risk perception by Zimbabwean communities poses a challenge in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic in the country, a health expert has said.

Manicaland Province Epidemiology and Diseases Control Officer, Munyaradzi Mukuzunga said this during a Covid-19 media engagement meeting which was organised by Zimbabwe Editors Forum (Zinef) in Mutare recently.

“In terms of roadmap to eliminate the pandemic, there is need for communities to up their perception in terms of risk.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, we thought it’s a fly by thing but the reality and data in the epidemiology is pointing that we may be with Covid-19 in the foreseeable future.

“This means all the measures that we have been doing or recommended to do in terms of mitigating the spread of Covid-19 are not temporary but we should move into a gear that we are going to change our behaviour permanently so that we live symbiotically with Covid-19 without infecting ourselves and people next door to us.

“We still have a lot of work to do to ensure that we create awareness,” said Mukuzunga.

He added, “People think there is no corona in Manicaland province.”

The health expert said effective response to Covid-19 was everyone`s business and risk perception by communities was very critical in fighting the pandemic.

“Why risk perception is important is once you regard yourself to be at risk it means you are going to take preventative measures.

“But if you look at how people are queuing in banks, vegetable markets and banks, it shows we are not practicing social distance.

“I will hasten to say even the issue about masks. They are supposed to be protective not to just have a mask. Covid-19 is about me and person next to me. At times you see four people in between the one metre markings in shops,” said Mukuzunga.

He also said there should be robust community surveillance systems augmented by security forces.

“We do get reports of people that would have crossed through the borders by communities and those people are referred for quarantine. Recently, I received a call from residents in Chikanga who were saying they had seen person who they don’t normally see in the community.

“We also had someone from Buhera who had jumped border from Zambia and villagers reported to us. Although, some would have been cleared by authorities, this shows we have a robust surveillance system and our teams are on the ground,” said Mukuzunga.