By MUGOVE TAFIRENYIKA in Harare

THE Zimbabwean government has expressed concern over complacency in observing Covid-19 regulations, particularly at funerals, amid fears of a third wave hitting the southern African country. 

This comes as the deadly Indian variant of Covid-19 was reported in Kwekwe last month. 

It also comes as neighbouring South Africa has tightened its lockdown regulations this week after it was hit by a third wave. 

Speaking during a post-Cabinet media briefing in Harare yesterday, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the government had observed the creeping complacency, particularly in Matabeleland South province. 

“In a related matter, it has been observed that some provinces such as Matabeleland South are not adhering to Covid-19 regulations at funerals, resulting in unnecessary discord between environmental health workers and the local leadership regarding issues of opening of coffins and body viewing. 

“The procedures to be followed in the repatriation of bodies from outside the country and at funerals can be obtained from the ministry of Health and Child Care,” Mutsvangwa said. 

The government has set a maximum number of 50 people allowed to attend funerals while body viewing has been outlawed.  

Besides the complacency at funerals, authorities are also concerned with the spreading of false information around the virus, especially on social media. 

“With regard to risk communication and information, the Cabinet notes with concern the rise in the dissemination of Covid-19-related fake news, mainly through social media platforms. 

“The public is urged to remain cognisant that the only source of information on the Covid-19 situation is the ministry of Health and not to act on the basis of information from unverified sources. Members of the public are once again urged to remain vigilant and desist from the increasing complacency being witnessed in observing all Covid-19 prevention and control measures and regulations. 

“Citizens are advised to avoid infection through continuous washing of hands; wearing of face masks; social distancing; and being vigilant about ventilation and avoiding overcrowding in closed spaces,” Mutsvangwa added. 

As of Monday, 675 678 Zimbabweans had received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, while 344 400 had their second dose. 

The country’s Covid-19 vaccination programme is targeting 60 percent of the population in order to reach herd immunity. 

This comes as Zimbabwe’s cumulative cases stood at 38 961 with 36 594 recoveries and 1 594 fatalities. 

Regarding the cases recently detected at Bondolfi Teachers College in Masvingo, Mutsvangwa said the government had put in place measures, including placing the institution under quarantine; identifying and isolating all cases; contact-tracing, screening and testing both students and pupils at adjacent primary and secondary schools. 

In a different matter, Cabinet yesterday also received a report by the ad-hoc inter-ministerial committee on the elimination of traffic congestion and installation of proper lighting in the country’s urban areas. 

“The government introduced the programme to ensure that the mismanagement and corruption of non-performing local authorities, especially in urban areas, which spawned glaring neglect of service delivery and dilapidation of infrastructure is brought to an end. 

“The government will provide finances and will also monitor and supervise the collection and utilisation of revenues by local authorities. 

“Regarding the upgrading of the High Glen/Gleneagles Roundabout, Kuwadzana roundabout and Warren Park D roundabout, it is reported that the relevant contracts have been awarded and delivery of material should be complete by 15 June 2021,” Mutsvangwa said. 

She added that concerning the repair and upgrading of traffic lights on major junctions, a total of nine traffic lights along Samora Machel will be synchronised. 

Meanwhile, all carriageway markings for roads and parking bays, including reserved public transport lanes, in the Harare central business district are expected to be complete by the end of this month. – Daily News