Local health experts have warned that COVID-19-related deaths could rise exponentially during and after the festive season as new infections soar.
Zimbabwe is currently experiencing the fourth wave of coronavirus infections, with daily confirmed cases remaining above 3 000.
Statistics released by the Ministry of Health and Child Care show that 4 247 new cases and 12 deaths were recorded on Thursday, 16 December 2021, with the 7-day rolling average for new cases now at 4 355.
Medical and Dental Private Practitioners of Zimbabwe Association (MDPPZA) president Johannes Marisa said there has been a general misunderstanding of the novel Omicron variant that led people to “celebrate” too early. He said:
We have always warned the public that it is too early to celebrate over low deaths being recorded daily.
We were still going to have the fourth wave of the pandemic even when we had not detected the Omicron variant.
There is a general misconception that the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is less deadly if mortality is low, especially during the first weeks. This is very misleading.
The situation in Germany may help us better understand the situation we are in. Mortality was contained at less than 30 people per day in Germany during the first six weeks of the fourth wave.
Today in Germany, more than 500 people are losing their lives on a daily basis. We should also brace for more deaths in the coming weeks as we see that cases are rising daily.
Mpilo Central Hospital acting chief executive officer Professor Solwayo Ngwenya warned that the true nature of the fourth wave will only be known after it has ended. He tweeted:
This wave is different from the others. It is characterised by massive infections in the beginning and lagging deaths.
It is just too aggressive, so swift, and its true nature will only be known after it has ended.
Community Working Group on Health executive director Itai Rusike implored members of the public to strictly adhere to WHO COVID-19 protocols. He said:
People still need sustained COVID-19 vaccine literacy and informed community participation in following the WHO recommended guidelines and protocols instead of being afraid of police officers and pretending to be in compliance with the government preventive measures.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa the last genomic sequencing had linked new COVID-19 cases to the highly transmissible Omicron variant.