Good evening my fellow Zimbabweans
Today the National Taskforce on COVID19 met and received reports from its Subcommittees and also deliberated on the following matters:
• HEALTH STRATEGY AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Whilst focusing on protecting the nation from COVID19, Government has not lost sight of other health challenges bedeviling our communities. It is in this context that the Taskforce noted with sadness the Typhoid and Dysentery in some Bulawayo suburbs. So far, Bulawayo has reported five community and seven hospital deaths. Government has therefore embarked on an intensive bulk water trucking programme to affected communities. Water samples from these areas are also undergoing analysis.
On another note, Government values the safety of health workers and their families. To protect frontline workers’ families from possible infections, Crown Plaza, Marondera Hotel and Khayela Guest Lodge are being used for quarantining frontline staff at Government’s expense.
The Taskforce was informed that Treasury has concurred to the recruitment of an additionally 500 health workers including doctors, nurses, and technicians for ICU/HDU and Isolation centres across the country. This recruitment will go a long way in boosting our health services’ capacity to respond and treat COVID19 cases.
• QUARANTINE AND ISOLATION FACILITIES
The country has witnessed a surge in positive cases, especially among returnees. There are 1770 returnees in quarantine facilities across the country, with the highest number of returnees being housed in Harare.
The Taskforce has noted that while the standard procedure according to WHO guidelines is the self-solation of asymptomatic positive cases, there are some cases that are unable to self-isolate in their homes. Such cases are being housed at isolation centres intended for those who require treatment. It has also been noted that there are some cases that have the capacity to self-isolate but are not adhering to self-isolation protocols and are putting communities at risk.
We have recommended that all positive cases at private and public quarantine facilities be moved to specific isolation centres in order to prevent the further spread of COVID19.
• MATERIALS PRODUCTION SUBCOMMITEE
The National Taskforce was informed by the Subcommittee that the demand for sanitizers has increased due to the national requirement that all entities have sanitizer /wash facilities at entry points. Let me take this opportunity to commend the nation for adhering to COVID19 preventative and protective measures such as hand washing and sanitizing.
• RE-OPENING OF UNIVERSITIES, COLLEGES, PRIMARY AND SECODNDARY SCHOOLS
The Taskforce received reports from the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development and from the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education on re-opening plans and Standard Operating Procedures for the Prevention and Management of COVID19 at learning institutions.
The Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development presented detailed individual State Universities and Colleges re-opening plans in light of the COVID19 pandemic.
By way of summary of this report, measures being taken to combat COVID19, tertiary education students, visitors and staff are as follows:
All Tertiary Education institutions are required to have ONE or, at most TWO, entrances to the entire institution.
All students and staff entering and exiting the institution cited above shall be required to go through screening.
Institution shall ensure students and employees are educated on the symptoms and the measures to take if COVID 19 symptoms manifest.
A capacity utilization chart/timetable shall be provided to Ministry Tertiary Education Compliance Inspectors satisfactorily adjusted to ensure that all classrooms observe and maintain acceptable physical distancing.
Depending on student volumes, timetables may have to be adjusted to ensure an even wider spread of students.
Students and employees will be encouraged to leave the institutions as soon as classes or work is completed for the day. These measures will be enforced by College Security Officials who patrol institution campuses at all times and by all senior staff and tutors.
No sporting activities are to be conducted at all institutions.
All institutions are to be fumigated prior to re-opening.
If any employee or student shows symptoms of COVID 19 whilst on campus, a report shall immediately be made to the institution health department for appropriate medical assistance.
The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education tabled Standard Operating Procedures for the Prevention and Management of COVID-19 and other Influenza like Illnesses in the Primary and Secondary Education Sector” which the National Taskforce adopted.
The SOPs, which were crafted in line with the Health School Policy, are meant to guide the conduct school business in a safe and healthy environment for all. The list of requirements will be updated depending on the nature of the public health pandemic at any time.
The SOPs measures include:
enforcement of the “stay at home if unwell” policy for learners, teachers, and school staff with symptoms
each school shall establish a temporary Isolation Holding Bay.
Apart from the major disinfection of all school buildings and grounds before the re-opening of schools, schools should clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as door handles, desks, toys, teaching aids, and play equipment.
All sporting activities, which include matches, choral practice, indoor games and festivals are prohibited until further notice.
The Taskforce noted that strict compliance to these SOPs is required by all and failure to observe these guidelines would compromise the health and safety of all. This would be in breach of the Public Health Act and relevant COVDI19 prevention and control measures. Heads of Office at National, Provincial, District and school level authorities have the responsibility to ensure and enforce compliance.
I wish to express best wishes to all students that are commencing their June/July Examinations tomorrow. Government has put in place measures to keep both learners and staff safe.
COMING TO OTHER ISSUES OUTSIDE OF THE NATIONAL TASKFORCE
• MEDIA REFORM
Government has embarked on a media reform programme. This includes legislative reforms, media cultural reform and registering new players in television. I wish to inform the nation that the deadline for applicants to lodge their applications for television players is tomorrow, 30June 2020. We take this opportunity to wish applicants all the best. The Second Republic means what it says on the media landscape reform.
• LOCAL CURRENCY
We have also received reports of some shops and business owners who are refusing to accept local currency as legal tender for goods and services. We wish to reiterate that the ZW$ is a legal medium of exchange and should be accepted.
My fellow Zimbabweans, as our positive cases rise, let us not become lax thinking that this virus is limited to returnees. We have to be vigilant and work collectively. Protective and preventative measures are there to assist us in combating COVID19.
Let us stay safe out there, minimize movement, sanitize and wash our hands, and observe social distancing.
I thank you.