Muchaneta Chimuka Senior Reporter
MEMBERS of the public must continue abiding with the World Health Organisation guidelines on the prevention of Covid-19 that include hand washing with soap and clean water, practising social distancing and wearing face masks covering the mouth and nose.
Director for epidemiology and disease control Dr Portia Manangazira made the call at the Zimbabwe National Practioner’s Association (ZINPA) Annual General meeting held in Karoi recently.
“Covid-19 is real and it is still with us, lets join our hands in fighting this pandemic, which has claimed the lives of many. The simple procedures that were laid out by the Government and WHO such as hand washing, wearing of face masks and social distancing can help us save the lives of many so let’s make them a culture requirement rather than do it in order to evade arrest by the police. As schools close many children will be back home and we have heard of many cases of children who were infected by the virus hence they should self-isolate to reduce spreading the virus,” she said.
She said if those school children infect the adults, chances are high that the death rate will increase because of their immune system, which is weaker compared to the youths’.
Dr Manangazira also urged churches and traditional healers to be very cautious when handling patients saying chances of both horizontal and vertical transmission of the virus were high.
“Let’s try by all means to maintain social distancing when praying for our clients or patients and gone are the days when people could wash the bodies of the deceased especially if there is a reasonable suspicion that the person might have died due to Covid-19. Let’s report all suspected cases to the Covid-19 Rapid Response Team or the nearest health clinic and to refer patients to health institutions to avoid delays in treatment,” said Dr Manangazira.
She said some of the traditional and cultural practices were crippling efforts by the Government and other partners in reducing the Covid-19 burden in the country.
Speaking at the same occasion, director for non-communicable diseases in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Justin Mudavanhu said handwashing should be practised at all costs.
“People should not wash their hands only when they are eating sadza or when instructed to do so at their workplaces. In fact, handwashing should become a culture that starts at home. Let’s teach our kids to wash their hands so that they don’t make trouble when they are at school. When you are not feeling well it’s quite important that you take your off days and stay at home,” he said.
He added that the elderly needed the utmost protection against the Covid-19 disease because they are the most vulnerable members of the community.
“Let’s not expose our elderly to the virus because their immune system is already weak and most of them are still struggling to cope with some non-communicable diseases such as blood sugar, hypertension among others. The pregnant mothers need to be protected again as they are a high risk group,” said Dr Mudavanhu
Founder and president for ZINPA, Sekuru Friday Chisanyu traditional and faith healers should be registered with associations such that they can get training opportunities on the prevention of Covid-19.
“So far we have over 400 traditional and faith healers who received training on Covid-19 prevention through support from the African Union and the Ministry of Health and Child Care. They were given gloves, thermometers, cell phones, sanitizers such that they can conduct tests in their communities and also handle patients who visits their shrines for assistance. They have been empowered and they have the right to turn away patients who might have temperatures above 37 degrees or to refer to local clinics for further management,” he said.
He said they were guided by the traditional medical practioners Council Act, which is administered by the Ministry of Health and Child Care as a registered association that caters for faith and traditional healers.
However, he lamented the mushrooming of bogus traditional and faith based healers whom he said were fuelling the spread of the virus due to their malpractices.
Different cultural groups such as Gule, Tsikadzemarudzi, Duramazwi Arts Ensemble entertained the crowd.
Covid-19 cases are worrisome as they are increasing daily in Zimbabwe and as of 15 December 2020 a single death was recorded taking the total of fatalities to 310, active cases 1613, recoveries 9 599 while new cases increased by 164 raising the total to 11 522 while 559 PCR tests have been conducted.