Zim enters fifth Covid-19 wave: WHO

Zimbabwe is heading into the fifth wave of Covid-19 after a resurgence of cases due to low temperatures, an official at the World Health Organisation (WHO) country team has said.

As of May 30, 2022, Zimbabwe reported 242 new Covid-19 cases while cumulative cases went up to 252 398 while people with active coronavirus cases are now 2 664.

“Zimbabwe is now already heading into the fifth wave, which is not a surprise because as Zimbabwe, our burden of Covid-19 is highly linked with the winter season, knowing that Covid-19 is some sort of flu and it is not surprising that we are seeing a gradual increase towards that,” said the WHO Health Systems Strengthening And Policies Adviser, Dr Stanley Midzi.

Dr Midzi revealed this while presenting on Sustainable Development Goal Number three, which is Health and Wellbeing at a workshop hosted by the United Nations on developmental reporting in Mutare.

Dr Midzi said looking at the Covid-19 epidemiological curve as of May 30 2022, it was indicating that since last week, there had been a gradual increase in cases.

On vaccination, the WHO official noted that Zimbabwe’s national target is still below 40 percent, against the expected reach of 60 percent to achieve herd immunity.

Dr Midzi, however, said the figure may go up if statistics from schools were compiled to see how many schoolchildren had been vaccinated.

“Since there was a blitz in schools, there would be much better vaccination coverage and then maybe, figures can be around 48 percent to over 50 percent. We thought that our vaccination coverage would be over 60 percent so that we have herd immunity but it’s still a challenge,” he said, citing how misinformation had impacted negatively on the vaccination drive.

“As the media you have a role to counter some of the misinformation that we know is coming from some faith healers or whoever, as this was quite abundant at the beginning when the vaccine was coming in. But I’m sure all those conspiracy theories have been broken and we think we should be able to do more to increase figures.”

As of May 30, 2022, the vaccination total for first dose takers is 6 228 052, the vaccination total for second dose takers is 4 524 556 while 789 893 have gone for a third booster shot.

Dr Midzi said apart from Covid-19, Zimbabwe had other public health emergencies it had to be wary of, stating that there was a measles outbreak in over a decade.

“We have a measles outbreak that is ongoing currently in Zimbabwe, the first time since 2012 in Mutasa and is now spreading to other districts. It’s a challenge as it’s persisting but we hope authorities will work quickly on to sort it out and not add to problems of Covid-19,” said the WHO official.

He highlighted that Zimbabwe was on the lookout for wild polio after an outbreak was reported in Malawi.

“Of course, we don’t have a border to Malawi but it’s very close to us as a neighbouring country. Then in Mozambique, which has a border with Zimbabwe some cases were picked up there, yet we thought we had eradicated polio,” Dr Midzi said.

He added that there was also a new Cholera case in Chiredzi but stated that Zimbabwe was now “very familiar on how to manage it,” should there be more cases, “because it can actually cause havoc like what it did in 2008 to 2009, so we hope we don’t reach that stage.”

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