Coronavirus: No water, no power, no rooms: challenges of containing an outbreak in Zimbabwe

  • Plummeting economy sure to make coronavirus mitigation tough
  • Most infrastructure in towns too congested to facilitate social distancing

ZIMBABWE Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has called on government to place the country under immediate lockdown to minimise the risk of the spread of the deadly Corona Virus.

The family of the first victim of coronavirus in Zimbabwe has told of the harrowing incapacitation crippling Wilkins Hospital, the main infectious diseases hospital in Harare.

The pandemic, which has claimed thousands around the globe claimed the life of broadcaster Zororo Makamba on Monday morning.

Questions have been raised concerning the country’s readiness to deal with the pandemic due to numerous extenuating factors.

Most people in Zimbabwe are self-employed while their incomes are categorised as hand-to-mouth, implying if they do not work today, they may also find it hard to put food on their table the following day.

In Zimbabwe, as in all areas around globe, one cannot afford to stay home while the family starves.

The coronavirus situation has confused a lot of people, with many having to face the hard choice between death by hunger or COVID-19.

The informal sector controls the Zimbabwean economy, with thousands working at Siyaso Market, Mupedzanhamho, Mbare Musika and Magaba in Harare as well as Chikwanha market in Chitungwiza.

Those are crowded places which the government may find difficult to deal with when it comes to the need to have their occupants dispersed.

Markets are not the only places where social distancing should be practised.

The public transport system is also in a mess.

To alleviate the transport situation, the government introduced subsidised Zupco buses, with the many of them always full to the bream.

Before one boards Zupco buses, they first have to stand in long winding queues, where social distancing, necessary for minimising coronavirus infections, cannot be practiced at all.

In previous years, Zimbabwe has struggled to deal with cholera in areas like Mbare, Budiriro and Glen View, all in Harare, among other high density areas across the country.

The waterborne situation was mainly caused by poor service delivery, with taps dry and sewage flowing all over the place in many different places countrywide.

Water outages pose a major health risk amid the worsening pandemic, with scientists and health experts advising that washing your hands regularly can protect you from becoming infected with the deadly disease.

Currently, the government is making frantic calls on citizens to practice good hygiene, with the efforts being frustrated by poor infrastructure in the country.

Because of lack of proper accommodation facilities, people end up leaving in big numbers, especially in places such as the popular Mbare Flats.

The flats were built by Prime Minister Ian Smith of the Rhodesian regime.

The flats are now dilapidated, with poor toilet facilities need refurbishment.

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