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Zimbabwe Extends COVID-19 Lockdown in Midlands City Recording New Deadly Indian Variant

Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa

The Zimbabwean government has extended the COVID-19 lockdown imposed recently in the Midlands town of Kwekwe, citing an increase in Coronavirus cases, including the feared Indian variant, which has already claimed the life of a local man.

In a tweet, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said, “Cabinet has approved that the Lockdown in Kwekwe be extended by a further two weeks. This comes in the wake of a surge in positive cases in the city. The Indian variant has been detected in some of the new cases.”

The government two weeks ago imposed stringent measures in Kwekwe to stop the spread of the Indian variant, which killed thousands of people in India.

At the same time, the Ministry of information has reported that Zimbabwe is expecting a batch of 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine by 15 June 2021.

Zimbabwe is using mainly Chinese vaccines – Sinopahrm and Sinovac – in its inoculation program, which was launched early this year.

Some people in urban areas claim that they are facing difficulties in getting their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The government has attacked some private entities that are reportedly selling the vaccine. In another tweet, the Ministry of information said these reports have infuriated Vice President Constantino Chiwenga.

The quoted Chiwenga as saying the government “takes a very dim view of actors in the private sector we hear are charging Zimbabweans for jabs. If they are not ready to participate in the vaccination programme on terms and parameters set down by Government, they are advised to look elsewhere for profitable services, not around vaccination.

“It is a no-go area for fortune hunters; those morally-depraved practitioners who seek to fish in troubled times. Government policy is that of ensuring free vaccination for all citizens who are ready and willing.”

Meanwhile, some staff quarters at Kwekwe General Hospital were gutted by fire on Tuesday.

In a tweet, Information Secretary Nick Mangwana said, “A nurses’ and doctors’ cottage at Kwekwe general hospital has been gutted by fire. Resource mobilization already underway.”

He did not provide any details on what caused the fire and staff members affected.

But some of Mangwana’s Twitter followers, including John Tsvedemu, expressed dismay over the issue.

Tsvedemu said, “Sad to hear this again. But my question is why didn't we learn from the Mpilo (hospital) incident. Let's do maintenance periodically on all government buildings. This shows that no one is even bothered about it then when it happens its fire fighting again... ‘Resource mobilisation’.”

Mangwana shot back saying, “Sometimes no structural changes can account for human behavior. More fire awareness training is needed. I remember in other countries Fire Training is a Mandatory Training need and has to be had every year, especially among healthcare workers. Without it you can’t work.”

Fire gutted staff houses at Mpilo General Hospital in Bulawayo two weeks ago, leaving some workers homeless.

According to the ministry, the government has also banned the use of schools for holiday lessons.

Mutsvangwa said, “The use of schools for holiday lessons during the 3-week break is banned. It is envisaged that the ban will allow thorough cleaning and disinfection of the school environment, reducing the spread of Covid19. Learning will continue on alternative platforms.”