By Nyaradzo Bakari
THE extension of the lockdown and relaxation of some sectors in Zimbabwe has been met with mixed feeling by Bulawayo residents.
On Friday the president, Emmerson Mnangagwa announced the extension of a lockdown meant to end on Sunday with a further two weeks, saying Zimbabwe was on Monday starting level 2 of the lockdown which will see industries, the mining sector and retail shops opening but with restrictions.
The President said the relaxation of the lockdown is a balance between preserving lives and trying to sustain the country’s economy which has suffered a collapse, due to the unforeseen lockdown.
Mnangagwa said people should wear masks outside their homes, including homemade masks. However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) currently recommends that only sick people who are showing symptoms and those caring for suspected cases should wear masks.
According to WHO cloth masks are not recommendable because they can be contaminated by other people’s coughs and sneezes or putting them on or removing them and they might offer a false sense of health security.
In separate interviews, Bulawayo residents showed support of the government’s decision to extend the lockdown while others feel the relaxation of the lockdown will put the nation at risk of getting an increase in the number of corona cases.
“The easing of the lock down may come as an advantage to majority of the citizens due to the fact that we are now able to travel freely into town to work or run grocery errands. If people are able to go to work then they will get an income because people would have died of hunger. I would like to commend the government also for making it compulsory to have masks when going out. It will help reduce the spread of corona virus,” said Nokubekezela Msweu a resident from Barbourfields.
Some residents said relaxing the lockdown at a time cases are still rising was not good for the country.
“Our lockdown was ill timed. It was supposed to originally start last week when more cases of Covid 19 were being recorded. Relaxing the lockdown at this point is very alarming as it will result in a rapid spread of the virus,” said Tawanda Chikore, a Mzilikazi resident.
Sinanziwe Zondo, a Mpopoma resident complained about the restriction of other means of transport as she said Zupco was not safe and would delay them at work.
“I was using Zupco from the past week to work and I was always late because it carries fewer passengers than usual so sometimes I would board the second trip or third. The wait is too much and also at every road block we have to disembark and individually show police officers our passes and this would take up more time. In such a situation my effectiveness as a worker becomes questionable,” said Zondo.
“Zupco buses are also not very safe because different people board and we are not sure if the seats and surfaces are sanitised before each trip to prevent the spread of the virus. I think they should provide more buses so that people do not have to wait for a long time to catch a bus. The queues are also risky because people hardly practise social distancing and this is worrying especially considering that more people will be out there as from tomorrow. I think some companies should just adjust to digital ways of doing business and let people stay home.”
Zodwa Xaba a Tshabalala resident said making use of masks compulsory was likely increase risk of contracting Covid-19.
“The issue of compulsory masks in Zimbabwe is tricky because a lot of people do not afford to buy a lot of masks they will change every now and then. At the end of the day a lot will start reusing masks just to get past the police yet they will be risking their health. Some people may even resort to sharing these homemade masks and this is not recommended and the virus will then have breeding ground and in no time we will have an increase in the number of cases. ”
On 30 March, Zimbabwean government implemented a 21-day lockdown which has been extended twice as a measure of reducing the spread of corona virus.
As of Saturday, the country has recorded 34 confirmed cases including four deaths and five recoveries.