Restrictions and curfews: Inside Zimbabwe’s rigid response to COVID-19

Restrictions and curfews: Inside Zimbabwe's rigid response to COVID-19
Restrictions and curfews: Inside Zimbabwe's rigid response to COVID-19

Restrictions and curfews: Inside Zimbabwe’s rigid response to COVID-19

By Joel Mandaza

The affix 19 on the shortened name of the COVID-19 virus communicates the year it became a global public health concern.

This means that the world, including Zimbabwe, have been living with the virus for the past 24 months.

During the time, 264 million cases have been confirmed and there have been 6 million deaths.

The science within the period has been progressing.

In December 2019, the only global response available were lockdowns and movement restrictions.

However, with science becoming better through the availability of vaccines society has moved from closing people indoors at the expense of their livelihoods.

As much as the world has moved, in England, football matches are still being watched with spectators despite taking a battering through new COVID-19 cases.

In the past 7 days, the country has recorded about 294,398 COVID-19 cases, however, despite these figures, the country remains open with their authorities heightening vaccination and making sure there is adherence to regulations.

Even if they were to lockdown, they have a functional social services system that ensures that citizens and residents of that country are not reduced to destitution.

Then you have Zimbabwe, a country some have quipped may have a department of hardships meant to complicate citizens` lives at the slightest chance.

This contradicts the vaccine bravado which citizens have been subjected to by authorities.

From February this year, the Government has been taking pride in the ongoing vaccination programme, claiming that they are among the top countries on the continent and the world in their vaccine procurement as well as distribution.

They have already claimed that they have reached herd immunity for Victoria Falls and the whole of the civil service.

On occasions, top government officials have gone on international platforms to gloat about the so-called vaccine victories.

What is curious though, is how can a country with one of the best vaccine programs in Africa be panicky to the point of closing down the country before those that are not performing as good as them?

The abrupt closure, which has seen even those who were vaccinated in Zimbabwe having to quarantine for 10 days as they return home from their travels is an affront to the vaccination program.

It communicates a scenario where those who heeded the call to get jabbed under the belief that they will enjoy more movement, in times of growing infections, are not directly benefiting from their leaps of faith.

If the government continues to institute lockdowns indiscriminately how are those who heeded the call to be vaccinated going to feel?

Government has a set of experts who inform them on their decisions, some of them are eminent professors who have consulted across the world in worse circumstances than COVID-19.

The lack of nuance and purposiveness in the manner that the government has been reacting to the different COVID-19 waves raises suspicion on the processes that are preceding major decisions.

Doctors have questioned the wisdom behind these latest measures announced by Cabinet earlier this week.

Dr Norman Matara, the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) questioned the logic in some of the newly announced restrictions.

“So, you can go and drink beer with friends at a bar if fully vaccinated. But you can’t go home straight if fully vaccinated and with PCR negative results when entering the country? Ok. Makes perfect sense,” Dr Matara wrote on his Twitter.

When Zimbabwe comes up with stringent rules, like mandatory quarantine at facilities approved by the government one would imagine that they have put the requisite infrastructure in place to accommodate the thousands that regularly fly into and out of the country.

Last time, the country had to resort to using High Schools and Polytechnics as they battled to handle traffic from Zimbabweans making their way home.

It would also appear that Cabinet did not think through the effect of such a decision on the flow of foreign currency into the country through both tourism and remittances.

Government has over time proven a one-trick pony when it comes to responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is always a heavy-handed approach that pushes certain sections of the economy out of play. Tourism and art are already bleeding, and one wonders if the economic growth projection for 2022 being pushed by the government and state media is based on fact or mere rhetoric.-

Restrictions and curfews: Inside Zimbabwe’s rigid response to COVID-19

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