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High Court Judge Orders Zimbabwe Govt to Disseminate Accurate, Adequate Information on COVID-19

A High Court judge has ordered the Zimbabwean government to disseminate comprehensive information on private and public testing, isolation and treatment of COVID-19.

According to the Zimbabwe chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa, Justice Dube’s order follows an urgent application filed by the media body recently, which challenged current information being disseminated by the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Information saying it was incomplete, uninformative and inadequate.

MISA Zimbabwe said the respondents were ordered to publish and disseminate on all available platforms, in all official languages, information on the occurrence and prevalence of the COVID-19 virus strain 501Y.V2 in Zimbabwe on a regular basis.

“If found to be existent in Zimbabwe, the respondents must communicate the pathology of the COVID-19 virus strain 501Y.V2 as well as measures to be taken by the public in respect of this strain. The respondents must communicate COVID-19 statistics per each district in Zimbabwe, which statistics should also include gender desegregated data.”

The two ministries have also been ordered to communicate COVID-19 statistics in relation to immigration and cross border travel and such reports should include the number of returning residents received and their Covid-19 status.

“The respondents must communicate additional information listing public and private testing and treatment centres, their capacity and current status of occupation or usage.”

MISA Zimbabwe further noted that the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Information should communicate the type and quality of medical equipment, other personnel needed and any further procurements that have been made since the commencement of the current national lockdown.

Information Secretary, Nick Mangwana, and officials in the Ministry of Health were unreachable for comment as they were not responding to calls on their mobile phones.

In its daily report, the Ministry of Health says 17 people died of COVID-19 in Zimbabwe on Monday and 160 tested positive for coronavirus.

“As at 01 February 2021, Zimbabwe had 33,548 confirmed cases, including 26,583 recoveries and 1,234 deaths.”