BY REX MPHISA
ZIMBABWE on Tuesday opened it’s borders closed almost two years ago in a fight against COVID 19.
Beitbridge residents welcomed the new development expected to uplift the economic statuses of residents of the town devoid of any formal industries.
The Government cited a decline in the prevalence of the respiratory disease and how it managed the fourth wave which claimed far less deaths than had been expected.
The decision to open was announced in a post cabinet press briefing, an address to journalists made soon after a Cabinet Ministers meeting.
Chairman of the Ministers’ COVID-19 National Committee, Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care Constantino Guvheya Chiwenga announced the development and said the opening was subject to all COVID 19 protocols.
“In view of the continued decline in new cases and deaths coupled with a declining testing positivity rate that is indicating that the community transmission has gone down, all ports of entry be reopened but ensuring that all the recommended COVID-19 prevention measures are adhered to, and all persons entering Zimbabwe must have undergone valid COVID-19 PCR test not more than 48 hours from the time of their departure for Zimbabwe, and fully vaccinated.
“Those who have received a booster vaccine shot have an entry advantage; and that, despite the continued decline in the number of new cases and deaths reported per day, strict enforcement of all COVID-19 regulations coupled with strengthened risk communication on the pandemic must continue since the pandemic is not yet over,” said Chiwenga.
Earlier he said the fourth wave of COVID-19 fuelled by the Omicron variant was successfully managed as is reflected by the decrease in the cases.
When Cabinet adjourned on December, 14 2021, the country was in the midst of the fourth wave with an average of 4 014 per day, and currently the new cases average less than 1000.
“As at 14 February, 2022, the country’s cumulative COVID-19 cases stood at 231 337, with 223 603 recoveries and 5 374 deaths.
“The recovery rate was 96%, with 2 892 active cases having been recorded. The number of new COVID-19 cases decreased to 929 during the week under review, compared to 992 recorded the previous week,” said Chiwenga.
“The number of people in need of hospitalisation for COVID-19 continues to decrease, with the country’s bed occupancy rate declining to 1.3% during the week under review from 1.9% the previous week.
“This indicates that the national response measures instituted by Government continue to pay off,” he said.
Regarding the national vaccination programme, he said cabinet wished to inform the public that, as at 14 February, 2022, a total of 4 346 937 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine had been administered, while 3 344 755 people had received their second dose.
Government had sufficient stocks of vaccines and urged those not yet vaccinated and those who need a booster to do so, he said.
Ministers of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution and their teams will be required to submit updated vaccination campaign strategies and micro-plans that support implementation of more innovative ways of strengthening vaccination services in their provinces.
Provinces should take advantage of the reopening of schools to ramp up vaccinations for those who are 16 years and above;
The Ministry of Health and Child Care is expected to come up with vaccination targets per month for each province in order to help ramp up vaccination as well as urgently identify and address any challenges in a timely fashion;
Chiwenga said Treasury will release adequate funds to support vaccine risk communication and community engagement campaigns as well as the updated provincial vaccine strategies and micro plans that aim to ramp up vaccinations.