Tuesday, October 3, 2023
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Its Time Govt Crafts Lockdown Exit Strategy?

Zimbabwe has been in lockdown for a third week now, and is likely to see an extension following the footpath of regional and global countries as an end to the scourge of the coronavirus is evidently far from over.

Globally, the disease has claimed lives of over 150 000 people with cases approaching the two million mark with the majority of these figures subjected to Europe, Asia and the United States.

In Zimbabwe, 3 deaths have been recorded so far with cases now reaching 18 and one recovery.

Worringly, these figures are deceiving as covid-19 tests in the country are far from convincing with government having managed to release test results of just under 500 people.

However, one contentious issue dominating global discourse this week has been how governments will exit the current lockdown restrictions and what needs to be done first before such moves are taken.

In some of the worst hit countries such as China, Italy and Spain steps are being taken to partially unlock these jurisdictions.

Central to these bold decisions has been the need to resuscitate the badly hurt economies which are under threat.

And for Zimbabwe, there are growing calls for government to start thinking around the economic side of events.

Most households are facing the grim reality of losing incomes given the fact that most Zimbabweans survive on informal trading activities.

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At a macro economic scale, key companies are also facing similar predicaments and the cost of this is unimaginable for a fragile economy like Zimbabwe.

Early this week, Denmark with 260 deaths and 6 000 of the coronavirus partially eased its lockdown restrictions to the extent of reopening schools albeit with strict guidelines to be adhered to for the prevention of the virus.

Zimbabwe’s economy is heading towards the cliff and the current measures on the lockdown have failed to explain to its citizens what exactly government want to achieve before it reopens the country.

As it stands, Zimbabwe is seemingly riding along the tide of other countries with regards to the lockdown without illustrating its own specific targets from these actions.

If other countries are to announce an end to lockdown today, does Zimbabwe have a strategy with resources to back it up on how it intends to start life post-lockdown?

And until we achieve what should the lockdown be called to an end?

In France, president Emmanuel Macron announced that the country will remain on lockdown until May 11 and to support this his government intends to avail sufficient masks and tests by that date before it lifts some restrictions.

The most vulnerable to the disease thus the elderly will still remain under strict lockdown to avoid exposure, he said.

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Globally, other countries are embarking on vigorous disinfection exercises in public centers and places such as in trains, buses and malls during lockdown so that by the time masses return to normal activities there is a degree of containment of the virus.

Indeed, economies have to work again and there is greater need to strike a balance between preserving gains made so far and curving a way for economies to sustain in this new age, something authorities world over are now engaging in.

Zimbabwe’ services sector (parkaging, legal practice, SMEs retail and manufacturing, tourism, real estate, construction, advertising and media etc) which accounts for the majority of the country’s Gross Domestic Product output has been severely hit by the lockdown.

While human life remains a priority for authorities when making decisions, one thing for certain is the need to craft ways to keep the economy at balance to also sustain the same lives it is rightly focusing on saving.

Either ways we have lives to protect both through solid health-care planning and economic sustainability.

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