Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday postponed the first term 2022 schools opening to a later date citing the need to mitigate Covid-19 infections that are being recorded across the country causing a rise in deaths.
In the past three days, the country has been recording an average of 30 Covid-19 related deaths and 2 000 new infections.
Schools were set to open for the first term of the year on 10 January 2022, except for Form One classes whose opening day was on Thursday deferred to a later date as their Grade Seven results are yet to be released.
However, only Ordinary and Advanced Level examination classes will be back at school on Monday next week to complete their examinations, which were halted by the Christmas and New Year holiday break.
This is a second year running for Government to postpone the reopening of schools at the beginning of the year due to a spike in Covid-19 cases.
In his New Year’s message delivered yesterday at State House in Harare, President Mnangagwa extended the national lockdown by two weeks saying the country was facing a grim picture posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The New Year, 2022, begins under the persistent shadow of the global Covid-19 pandemic. The week closing the year has seen us record a total of 10 384 cases of infections and 142 deaths.
“These sombre statistics translate to an average 1 483 new cases of infections, and 20 deaths each day,” said President Mnangagwa.
“The last three days alone were especially dire, with some 2 000 new infection cases, and 30 deaths recorded daily. Clearly our nation is in the grip of an Omicron variant-induced fourth wave, whose curve we continue to struggle to flatten, before the curve begins to tend down.”
On Tuesday, the country recorded 32 deaths and 2 099 new infections while on Wednesday 27 citizens succumbed to the virus as 2 107 new cases were recorded and on Thursday 30 died as 2073 new infections were recorded.
As a result of the increase in Covid-19 infections, the President imposed tighter lockdown regulations including postponing the re-opening of school.
“In view of this gloomy picture, Government has decided on the following measures, which take immediate effect: The current Level Two National Lockdown is extended by a further two weeks, after which an appropriate review will be announced, guided by a scientific appreciation of the obtaining situation,” said President Mnangagwa.
“With the exception of examination classes, which resume classes as announced by the responsible ministry, the general school calendar is hereby delayed until further notice.
“Examination classes exempt from this delay are, however, expected to strictly comply with preventive public health measures.”
The President said businesses will continue to operate from 7AM to 7PM but employers should implement Covid-19 prevention measures including restricting physical meetings for virtual ones.
He encouraged employers to consider allowing their employees to work from home.
President Mnangagwa said the general citizenry should also continue observing Covid-19 prevention protocols including getting vaccinated.
“As before and always, face masks must be worn by all our citizens in public places, spaces, gatherings and when patronising public transport. Those of our citizens who are yet to get vaccinated should, without delay, proceed to get vaccinated at designated vaccination centres,” he said.
“Provincial task-force teams should be on hand to motivate and intensify the vaccination process.
“While Government finalises measures to introduce and roll out a nationwide booster vaccination programme, we are all expected to adhere fully to World Health Organisation (WHO) measures on public health, including and especially the washing of hands under running water; sanitizing; social distancing; to the extent possible avoiding crowds and unnecessary gatherings and, wearing face masks at all times and in all public situations,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said if citizens comply with Covid-19 prevention measures the country should be able to overcome the “fourth wave” as has been done with previous waves.
“With a strict adherence to these measures and precautions, our nation should be able to ride through this fourth wave so we all return to, and resume, our normal, productive lives that we all yearn for.
“The call is to us all, the responsibility a shared, national one. I wish you a happy but careful crossover into the New Year, which must deliver better health prospects for us all. Happy, healthy and prosperous 2022 Zimbabwe,” said President Mnangagwa. – @nqotshili.
Article Source: The Chronicle