Herald Reporter

Government has warned those peddling information on Covid-19 test results without authority as this causes unnecessarily panic and inhibits efforts to contain the pandemic.

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa last night said only the office of the Secretary of Health and Child Care had lawful authority to issue statistics regarding Covid-19.

Speaking after a meeting of the National Covid-19 Taskforce held at State House she said: “The National Taskforce has noted with concern several reports of persons who are not authorised to issue statements and information regarding Covid-19 test results. This has led to misinformation that causes unnecessary panic and affects efforts to respond to the pandemic.

“The official communication of Covid-19 test results to all publics is the sole responsibility of the Secretary for Health and Child Care. This is in order to prevent what the World Health Organisation calls ‘infordemics’, which is an excess amount of information concerning a problem which makes solutions difficult,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

Dr Gibson Mhlanga is the Acting Secretary for Health, while Prof Amon Murwira is the acting Health Minister.

Minister Mutsvangwa said if an employee tested positive to Covid-19, the employer should immediately close the work premises until it was thoroughly disinfected and should only reopen after other employees in contact with him or her have been tested.

She implored everyone to play a role given the rising deaths and confirmed cases of Covid-19.

“We are at a time where we speak more of how many of our loved ones have passed on than how many have tested positive. This is not an easy time for the nation. Each one of us has a critical role to play in the battle that is before us. The Inter Ministerial Taskforce continues to make preparation so that we can deal with the eye of the storm,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

She said the National Taskforce visited provincial structures across the country in order to inspect and monitor the progress made in the fight against the pandemic as well as address province specific challenges.

In order to expand testing and contact tracing in hotspot areas, the Ministry of Health has established 32 Rapid Response Teams in Harare and Bulawayo.

During the meeting, Attorney-General Advocate Prince Machaya presented interpretation on definition of essential services that include hospitals, transport, electricity, water, sewerage or sanitary, distribution of food, banking, coal mining, broadcasting, arms and organs of state providing security services.

“In view of the curfew, supermarkets, vegetable markets and food retail stores, banks, bureaux de change, money transfer agencies, all courts of law, proceedings of Parliamentary Committees (but not Parliament itself), proceedings of the Stock Exchange, restaurants not attached to hotels, hunting safari operations, low-risk sporting activities, permitted gatherings (for example at funerals, churches, restaurants not attached to hotels) will operate from 8am to 3pm, and these are classified under non-essential services.”

Intercity travel is prohibited and can only be facilitated by Zupco.