Zimbabwe has made huge strides in curbing the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus which causes the respiratory disease called COVID-19, but the progress could be undermined by an increasingly complacent populace.
The Government has over the past several weeks relaxed lockdown regulations, with the number of infections on the decline.
Schools are reopening, along with churches, bars, restaurants, airports and tourist attractions and there has been a gradual return to relatively normal life.
Due to the receding threat, more and more people have thrown caution to the wind, with some even throwing away face coverings, though it still remains an offence.
Omega Chibanda, 16-ear-old resident of the overcrowded Chitungwiza town told AFP that he was no longer afraid of coronavirus. He said:
We used to fear coronavirus, not anymore. That’s why I’m not even wearing a mask. It’s all relaxed now.
Community health worker Rosemary Rambire told AFP that the improving figures and the start of the searing heat of the Southern Hemisphere’s summer could undermine efforts to beat back the virus even further. She said:
Our job is now harder to do because people are no longer afraid. Some even tell us that it has not killed anyone they know. Most of them say the sun kills COVID-19 so they have no reason to worry.
It’s different from before when we did campaigns on cholera (and) HIV. We could tell that people were afraid. They tried to follow preventive measures. With COVID-19, they are not afraid.
Chief COVID-19 response coordinator Dr Agnes Mahomva said the government will “not hesitate to do something really strict” to curb any creeping complacency.
Dr Mahomva said dire projections that “Africa, you are going to be toast”, may have helped the continent to quickly tighten up and curb the spread of the coronavirus.
As of 28 September 2020, Zimbabwe had 7 816 confirmed cases, including 6 112 recoveries and 228 deaths.