Zimbabwe pins hopes on vaccine as Covid-19 infections rise again

It is unclear when a vaccine will be rolled out in Zimbabwe. File photo.
It is unclear when a vaccine will be rolled out in Zimbabwe. File photo.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

The New Year’s plea from many in Zimbabwe is the arrival of a Covid-19 vaccine as soon as possible, as the country's festive season was dampened by fears fuelled by a second wave of infections.

The UK has pledged to vaccinate three million people drawn from low-income communities.  

“We discussed how Zimbabwe can benefit from this so the most vulnerable 20% can be vaccinated. We discussed how important it is that these vaccines are targeted to people who need them most,” said Melanie Robinson, UK ambassador to Zimbabwe, after meeting Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, who doubles as health minister.

However, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), Zimbabwe could be among the last countries to get a Covid-19 vaccine.

“It’s a nightmare. I have lost relatives and friends to this thing,” said a nurse at a government hospital in Harare.

The second wave of infections has manifested and there are more cases and deaths recorded daily. The average daily infections this week stood at 122 with five deaths. During the first wave, new cases used to average around 20 per day.

Heading into the New Year, some health experts are calling for another total lockdown to curb rising infections, informed by what is happening on the ground.

Nine national team footballers and five officials tested positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday while preparing to play in the Chan tournament scheduled for Cameroon from January 16 to February 7 2021.

Responding to the spike in Covid-19 cases, the ministry of primary and secondary education has decided to alter the dates on which schools reopen.

“In light of the surge in Covid-19 infections and the new and more contagious variants of the disease, government has seen it fit to deviate from the previously announced 2021 school calendar,” said Tumisang Tabela, secretary for the ministry. New dates are yet to be announced.

With the detection of new variants of the coronavirus, which appear to transmit more easily, there are fears this will drive up infections in Zimbabwe.


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