By Senzeni Ncube and Lubalethu Ndlovu
More awareness on the deadly Coronavirus (Covid-19) is still needed in Bulawayo with institutions such as banks, registry offices and supermarkets found wanting in terms of keeping social distance as a precautionary measure against the global pandemic which has claimed many lives.
A CITE news team on Friday visited the Bulawayo Central Business District (CBD) to assess the situation and measures taken by institutions serving a large number of people.
At a queue in one of the banks, it was business as usual with people squashed in a queue with no social distance of 1 metre.
Inside the crowded bank, attendants had face masks and hand sanitisers by the inquiries desk.
One of the clients at the bank, Aida Nyirenda, said she had heard of the Coronavirus but was not aware of the prevention measures to take especially in public spaces.
“I have heard of Coronavirus but I am not aware of the measures and precautions to take, as you can see, I am in a queue to access money to buy sanitisers and face masks,” she said.
“For now, the banks are giving us ZWL$95. I do not know how much the sanitisers cost and the face masks. I will see what I can afford because we are now trying to protect our children.”
She added: “In the morning the queue was very long and the social distance was hard to maintain, you could only try to use your elbow and cover your mouth or step aside when coughing.”
Talent Moyo, who had come from Nkayi to withdraw money told CITE in rural areas villagers were scared of the novel disease
“In rural areas, people seem scared of this virus, but when I got here, I found people are so relaxed,” said Moyo.
“Social distance is not kept, people mingle in banks and public transport as usual. People are still shaking hands which means they are not aware of the dangers of Coronavirus. People talk about this virus but no one is taking action. We have heard of different myths such as drinking warm water in the morning, drinking lemon water and gurgling.”
At the registry offices, people were squashed in queues absently-minded.
“I do not have much information regarding Coronavirus; I have only received different myths from the social media about the virus, but I am not really aware of the exact symptoms,” said Thembekile Sayila.
“We are just appealing to the government to secure facemasks for the public so that we can stop this virus from spreading. We have seen people in other countries covering their mouths and noses. If the government can also secure those for us I think we would be protected.”
Elliot Ngwenya said he was of the idea that Covid-19, was just a rumour he was hearing.
“Corona is just a rumour; I do not have many details or know any symptoms regarding this virus,” said Ngwenya.
Most supermarkets and pharmacies in the CBD have introduced hand sanitisers for customers who access their facilities.
A shop attendant in one of the supermarkets said: “It is very important for customers to use these sanitisers to make sure that they do not bring the virus into the shop or take it out. Most customers buy food and consume it without washing their hands hence we want to protect our customers from this virus.”
King Richard, a customer at one of the supermarkets said all he knew a little about the Coronavirus.
“I only heard that Coronavirus is a deadly virus,” he said.
“It is very dangerous and a lot of services are being shut down due to this epidemic. We are however worried that other services such as churches are shutting down but the public transport is still functional. As it is, we are in a queue for mealie meal. These are the things that can also affect us in terms of Corona.”
A vendor at the vegetable market Bruce Ngwenya said he did not know how Coronavirus was spread.
“What I know about Coronavirus is what I hear from people but I do not know how it is contracted, where it started, where it strives and the type of people it affects,” said Ngwenya. He added that he had little knowledge of the preventive measures.
“About prevention, I do not want to lie. I am not so sure about the measures. I have only heard that it can be prevented by not shaking hands. So far that is the only thing I know,” he said.
Meanwhile, hand sanitisers have become scarce in supermarkets as people went on a panic-buying spree when fears of Coronavirus spreading into Zimbabwe gathered momentum.
Sanitisers can only be found in pharmacies and they cost US$9 or ZWL$225.