By Bernard Mpofu
Zimbabwe could experience a more devastating third wave of the Covid-19 outbreak after easing lockdown restrictions and allowing businesses to re-open, a senior government health expert has said.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa last month lifted most of the tough lockdown restrictions as Covid-19 cases began to fall after a second wave of the outbreak that saw the death of hundreds of people at the beginning of the year.
Bulawayo’s Mpilo Hospital chief executive officer, Solwayo Ngwenya, said complacency was creeping in among Zimbabweans following the easing of the restrictions.
Ngwenya, a vocal advocate of tighter measures to control the spread of the coronavirus, said most people and businesses were failing to adhere to World Health Organisation guidelines to prevent coronavirus infections.
“This urge of trying to forage for food and forage for this economic revival and so forth in the middle of a global pandemic is going to be our Achilles heel,” he warned.
“That is what is going to contribute to a lot of deaths, especially in Africa and Zimbabwe.
“At the moment the government tried its best, we had a lockdown and infections went down and later on the government was under pressure obviously.”
Ngwenya added: “People were distressed because the economy was closed.
“But I’m sure that the government is monitoring the situation because very soon the virus is going to force the government to act.
“It’s going to force people back into their homes and another lockdown will be looming.
“So it’s either you die or go back into lockdown. So the government will strike the balance.”
He said although Zimbabwe had started its Covid-19 vaccination programme after taking delivery of vaccines from China and India, the country still faced a very lethal third wave of the outbreak because people were largely complacent.
Ngwenya said the world was still far from getting protection from vaccines because of resource constraints.
“We have just come out of the second wave and a lockdown and now if you see things that are happening in the community, you can see that the people are very complacent and people are actually making this virus move from one human being to another and that’s when we are going to see a third wave coming up,” he added.
“It’s good that the vaccination programme has started. It is a small start.
“This virus has a lot of infections globally and very few people are immune to it, and for you to be safe from vaccines, you have to vaccinate 67% of the population, even the global population.
“You look at 67% of the billion people globally and then each will then get a dose or two, so we are looking at billions and billions of vaccines,” he said.
As of April 5, Zimbabwe had 36,934 COVID-19 cases with 34,758 recoveries and 1,525 deaths.