By Bernard Mpofu
CABS has closed two of its branches in Bulawayo and Karoi after its employees tested positive for Covid-19 as a surge in new infections continues to pose a threat to businesses in Zimbabwe.
The bank, a local unit of financial services group Old Mutual, is one of several businesses that have had their operations disrupted by Covid-19 outbreaks since last year.
Mehluli Mpofu, CABS managing director, said the group had taken a decision to close the branches after its workers developed flu-like symptoms before testing positive for Covid-19.
Covid-19 is a respiratory ailment characterised by flu-like symptoms such as high body temperature, sneezing and coughing, among others.
“We regret to advise that two of our staff tested positive for Covid-19 following (polymerase chain reaction) PCR tests that were done after they exhibited flu-like symptoms,” Mpofu said.
“The affected branches are Jason Moyo in Bulawayo and Karoi.
“Both branches are closed to allow for disinfection, PCR testing and self-isolation of our staff.
“The Jason Moyo branch will open for service on 28 June 2021 and Karoi branch will open on 2 July 2021.”
Some parts of Bulawayo and three districts in Mashonaland West province have over the past few weeks seen a surge in Covid-19 infections, prompting authorities to impose localised lockdowns.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week imposed strict measures in Makonde, Hurungwe and Kariba districts in Mashonaland West to curb the spread of Covid-19.
The measures included curfews between 1800hrs and 0600hrs, decongestion of office employees to 25 percent, except for essential services, reduction of shop and business operating hours from 0800 to 1500hrs while public transport was to carry half of their carrying capacity.
In April, Old Mutual warned that Covid -19 would continue disrupting businesses in Zimbabwe because the country will take longer than expected to vaccinate its people against the coronavirus.
Zimbabwe started rolling out its vaccination programme in February as part of government’s measures to reduce the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
When the immunisation programme begun, there was a lot of resistance because of lack of information about the vaccines and misinformation.
Experts say Zimbabwe needs to vaccinate 10 million out of its nearly 16 million strong population to achieve herd immunity.
Experts say the herd immunity threshold is generally achievable only with high vaccination rates, and many scientists had thought that once people started being immunised en masse, herd immunity would permit society to return to normal.
Most estimates had placed the threshold between 60 and 70% of the population gaining immunity, either through vaccinations or past exposure to the virus.
But as the pandemic enters its second year, the earlier thinking is beginning to shift, and experts are back to the drawing board.