Mnangagwa urged to announce lockdown extension, if any, in advance

Mnangagwa urged to announce lockdown extension, if any, in advance

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been urged to announce any extension of the lockdown in advance, if there is going to be any, so as to prepare the people, business and the education sector.

Zimbabwe declared a 21-day national lockdown which began on 30 March and is expected to end at midnight on Sunday but Mnangagwa said he would only let the nation know if he is extending the period or not on 20 or 21 April.

Local watchdog organisation, Veritas, said if the lockdown is extended, the parameters of the restrictions should be made clear in regulations or orders and these should be made known to all law enforcement agents.

“A key part of the strategy on dealing with Covid-19 that has been used in other countries is to build public trust in the leadership and the information that the public receive,” it said.

“The government should invest in a communication strategy which informs every member of society about measures that it will be taking in dealing with the pandemic.  Any extension of the lockdown must be communicated in time and its purpose explained.

“Exemptions should be clear and the health of those exempted need to be fully protected.  If food markets and places where the public can get water remain open and accessible the security forces should be instructed on how they can help persuade people to practise social distancing and washing of hands and contaminated surfaces, rather than beating up people.

“The government should therefore expend energy on trust building and effective communication that allows forward planning by the public as this is key to the success of the fight against Covid-19.”

Veritas said that at face value on, the extension was inevitable because Zimbabwe was far from meeting the criteria set by the World Health Organisation before countries can lift restrictions.

WHO said that before lifting restrictions, countries should ensure that:

  • Covid-19 transmission is controlled;
  • their health systems have the capacity to detect, test, isolate and treat every case of Covid-19 and trace every contact of those infected;
  • outbreak risks are minimised in special settings;
  • preventative measures against Covid-19 infection are in place in essential places that people go to such as workplaces, schools, etc;
  • importation risks are managed; and
  • communities are fully educated and engaged to adjust to the “new norm”.

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