VICE-PRESIDENT Constantino Chiwenga (pictured) , who is also Health minister, has claimed the governmnent is not overwhelmed by the rising Covid-19 infections and public health facilities have adequate capacity despite a soaring death rate and an outcry over a shortage of beds.
Chiwenga said the reports of bed shortages were just social media allegations being peddled by “pen-mercenaries”.
His assertions run contrary to citizens have been taking their desperate pleas for hospital beds to social media, after failing to secure beds, particularly for intensive care unit support.
“In light of widely circulating reports alleging that there is a serious deficit of hospital beds, let me point out that these were ‘embellished social media allegations by some pen-mercenaries.’ However, if the need arises in future, my Ministry may consider options of increasing facilities currently designated for COVID 19 or designate more hospitals to take in patients. In a worst case scenario, that has so far not manifested, all hospitals in the country may be directed to take in citizens affected by COVID 19,” Chiwenga said in a statement.
He however said some administrative issues that had affected the smooth admission of patients had been resolved.
“Among them was, Government’s extension of COVID 19 Allowances to incentivize our Health care workers, frontline workers, civil servants and vulnerable members of our society, and provision of PPEs (personal protective equipment).”
Zimbabwe on Thursday reported 47 deaths, the highest single-day toll since the outbreak of the virus in March last year. Cumulatively, the number of deaths stood at 636 while infections are at 25 368.
“In my capacity as your Minister of Health and Child Care, I want to take this opportunity to urge our beloved citizens not to panic and that they should rely on official information. I am also aware that some of our citizens are anxious to get vaccinated. The Government is following the development and dissemination of COVID 19 vaccines by other states, with keen interest,” he said.
He said Zimbabwe was still assessing the safety of the vaccines before they can start rolling out the vaccines.
“As soon as all technical and administrative obligations are met, Zimbabweans can expect to be vaccinated. The vaccination is going to be voluntary. Let me underscore that my Ministry is doing everything possible to ensure that our citizens are safe from possible side effects of some COVID 19 vaccines, currently on the shelf,” Chiwenga said.
He also said there might not be need a to extend the 30-day national lockdown if the progression of the pandemic is tamed.
“However, let me warn my fellow countrymen that current statistics is indicating a marginal increase in new cases. The total Confirmed Cases continued to mount. The prevailing situation is posing a grave threat to public health as denoted by a summary of figures contained in the table: Our citizens should not slacken. We should continue to observe guidelines of wearing masks, observing social distance and sanitization.”
“It is unfortunate that some of our people continued to defy lockdown measures, as we might have noticed in Mbare, where some errand (errant) youths decided, in their own wisdom or lack of it, to organize a musical showcase. If all our people maintained a positive attitude towards measures to combat the Corona Virus, there was not going to be any need for imposition of a National Lockdown.
“I am aware that lockdown measures do hurt the socio-economic livelihoods, freedoms, rights and liberties of individuals. Nevertheless, they may be necessary if some of our citizens display nonchalant behavior. Honestly, would you require Security Forces to persuade you to conform to some of these basic guidelines? We are not interested in arresting our people, therefore I urge you to reawaken internal discipline.”
Despite Zimbabwe testing between around 2 000 to 3 000 people a day, and the bulk of tests are being conducted by private laboratories, Chiwenga said the government had a testing capacity of 6 000 people per day. –STAFF WRITER.