Zimbabwe is yet to meet the World Health Organisation (WHO) targets for lifting Covid-19 lockdowns, with the country left with just five days to end its 21-day lockdown, a human rights watch body said.
According to the WHO, Covid-19 transitions have to be at a controllable level, outbreak risks minimised in special settings and importation risks managed. Also, communities should be fully educated about the pandemic and preventive measures in place against Covid-19 infection in essential places that people go to such as workplaces and schools.
But Veritas — a human rights watchdog — noted that since Zimbabwe does not meet any of the set targets, “extending the lockdown seems necessary”.
“The spread of Covid-19 is probably just starting in Zimbabwe,” it said.
Botswana has put in place a six-month lockdown, and SA extended its three-week lockdown by two weeks. Zambia has not put one in place, while Mozambique declared a state of emergency.
African countries took varied measures because of the socio-economic impact of shutting down. Zimbabwe is one of the hardest hit.
“In Zimbabwe, where most people are in the informal economy, the impact of lockdown on their livelihoods and their networks of dependants is very great. Social and economic cushioning is very limited in Zimbabwe, as in other poorer countries,” Veritas said.
This week Zimbabwe experienced a sharp increase in Covid-19 cases, particularly in the second-largest city, Bulawayo, where testing began earlier this week. The city recorded two positive Covid-19 cases in three days, bringing the national total to 23 from 716 tests. There had been one recovery and three deaths.
The latest cases noted in Bulawayo involve people with no history of travel.
One of the cases — called Case 15 — is that of a doctor who had contact with a deceased Covid-19 patient.
Lobbyists say if there is an extension, there is a need to build trust in the public for co-operation.