Muchaneta Chimuka

Senior Reporter

The easing of Covid-19 restrictions and re-opening of schools has resulted in some people ignoring Covid -19 preventative measures like wearing face masks, hand washing with soap and running water, and social distancing.

This is despite the fact that Covid-19 is still in existence and such guidelines set by the World Health Organisations should be followed.

As at October 22, Zimbabwe had 243 126 confirmed cases, 8215 positive cases, 236 deaths and 7725 recoveries.

A survey by The Herald in Harare’s Glen View high density suburb, and Chitungwiza was evident of how communities have become complacent.

“The majority of people no longer wear face masks because there is this a general assumption that Covid-19 is no longer in Zimbabwe because of few fatalities. Some people just wanted to first witness people dying locally, to believe that Covid-19 is real rather than relying on statistics. We have lots of doubting Thomas’s here,” said Grace Chidau a local resident and water committee member.

She added they educate people on a daily basis at borehole sites on how to prevent Covid-19. At times they turn away people who come to fetch water without face masks.

Another resident, Mr Amos Riziye said people are not wearing masks because of the hot weather.

“People are no longer wearing masks whether in public transport like Zupco, going for shopping or even at their workplace. They only wear them temporarily in places like the central business district where there are restrictions or where chances of getting arrested by the police are high. Even the elite wear them incorrectly hanging on their chin or necks,” he said.

Mr Edward Mashiri said people have enough information on Covid-19 prevention strategies but ignore safety measures.

“Maybe it is because people have lived for too long with the virus and they are now fed up with wearing masks. Chances are that a second wave of Covid-19 might arise hence personal hygiene is the only important tool rather than copying others who are giving a cold shoulder to expert advice,” he said.

In Harare’s CBD, and in Chitungwiza some people were seen wearing the face masks incorrectly despite the police, Ministry of Health and Child Care and other partners like Unicef, Goal Zimbabwe, and WHO among others holding massive educational campaigns.

In Glen View some people where seen walking to church without masks despite their numbers that exceeded the stipulated 100.

Speaking at the World Food Day and the tour of agricultural activities in Mukwene and Chibvuti farm in Goromonzi recently the Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care, Cde Constantino Chiwenga urged communities to follow the WHO guidelines in Covid-19 prevention and emphasised on wearing face masks.

“We have noticed that so many people have become reluctant to the extent that they just place their masks on the neck like young children. The masks are not meant for that purpose but they are there to save your precious lives against the Covid-19 pandemic. Let’s continue wearing our masks correctly, wash hands with soap and clean water and maintain social distancing because it is only these little procedures that have led to this decline in Covid-19 cases in Zimbabwe,” he said.

Under the new law announced by the Government of Zimbabwe wearing of masks is now a legal requirement in the wake of Covid-19.

Anyone found defying this directive will be fined $500 or imprisonment of up to one year.

Due to the negative impact of Covid-19, many organisations have resorted to virtual conferencing to avoid crowding for instance the 2020 Edition of the Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo is going to be held virtually in response to the coronavirus pandemic that has prevented the gathering of many people in a face to face interface – according to the Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Hon Mangaliso Ndlovu.

Most activities are going to be done virtually in order to contain the virus.