By Kenneth Matimaire
MUTARE City Council says it is moving in to prevent a deadly third wave of the Covid-19 outbreak by improving access to vaccines and stepping up awareness campaigns.
There are fears that Zimbabwe could experience a third wave of the outbreak this winter following detection of the Indian variant of the coronavirus in Kwekwe early this month and the falling temperatures.
Anthony Mutara, Mutare’s acting town clerk, said they were used different platforms to encourage city residents to take up the Covid-19 vaccines that were first rolled out in Zimbabwe in February.
All the eastern border city’s 10 clinics are providing vaccination services and they are complemented by mobile and station units dotted around populated public spaces such as termini and markets.
“We are doing all we can to overcome potential outbreaks,” Mutara said.
“We (also) have a massive vaccination programme, in the whole of Mutare through the directive of (President Emmerson Mnangagwa).
“All our clinics, 10 of them, are doing vaccinations, we also have several vaccination units in and outside the central business district.
“This is to make sure we pick up all those new cases before they spread.”
He added: “This is what we are doing to make sure that we do not have a third wave. If (the third wave) does (come), we are prepared for it.”
An international collaboration of researchers from seven European countries and China, found that temperatures and humidity in the environment have an effect on the severity of Covid-19 symptoms.
Comparing outcomes from more than 40,000 Covid-19 patients over the course of the pandemic suggested that the disease was more severe in colder months than warmer ones, and that dry indoor air may encourage the spread of the disease.
Zimbabwe says it wants to inoculate 60 percent of the population against Covid-19 by the end of the year to achieve herd immunity.
According to the 2012 Census, Mutare has 189,000 people and the government has set a target of vaccinating 129,000 people in the city to reach the threshold where a sufficient percentage of the population has become immune to an infection.
Although Mutara did not have the vaccination statistics at hand, he said they were on course to reach the targets.
He said they were working with media institutions to “educate people correctly and not put fear where it is not warranted.”
” The uptake of vaccination was initially slow,” Mutara said.
“The misinformation that had gone out on social media seems to be attributed to this hesitancy on the part of the population.
“But as we speak, we are now seeing a higher uptake.
“Some people are coming in and are not being served on that particular day.
“We want to avoid people going to intensive care because that is where people will die.”
Mutare has also been enforcing Covid-19 prevention guidelines such as temperature checks, sanitising, hand washing and social distancing within business premises.