‘All public service staff should get jabs’ . . . as more doses arrive


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HARARE – All civil servants should now be vaccinated with Government boosting national vaccine supplies through an order of 1,5 million doses expected this week and another 1 million on Sunday, backing up the 2,5 million doses that have arrived since late last month to launch the present acceleration of the national programme.

Cabinet decided yesterday that as all civil servants should now be vaccinated, those unvaccinated will no longer be entitled to Covid-19 insurance and as it cuts duty staff to 25 percent to decongest offices on two-week rotations, vaccinated staff will be given priority.

The move to push forward faster on vaccination and the greater decongestion of civil service workplaces is part of measures to combat the spread of Covid-19, which has seen a surge in weekly cases from 8 013 in the week ending Tuesday last week to 21 346 new cases in the week ending yesterday.

Cabinet noted that the surge is attributable to general complacency in adhering to set Covid-19 preventive measures both in communities and at workplaces.

Speaking after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said extra steps were being taken to manage the surge.

The Ministry of Health and Child Care has developed a Covid-19 third wave containment plan, the highlights of which include increasing the bed capacity at Mpilo and Sally Mugabe Central hospitals, strengthening private sector participation, and improving conditions of service for health workers, said Minister Mutsvangwa.

Beatrice Road Infectious Diseases Hospital and Ekusileni Hospital are being designated as Covid-19 district hospitals for Harare and Bulawayo, while virtual hospitals will be operationalised. This will see every district having a rapid response team to attend to cases of acute Covid-19 clinical distress.

The Covid-19 risk allowances are being reviewed. A locum-based Covid-19 risk allowance payment model will be adopted for the health personnel in the red zone as part of the incentive schemes.

Government had taken the lead and reduced its workforce in its workplaces further to 25 percent on a two-week rotational interval with priority given to vaccinated personnel.

This will see law courts open only for remand and urgent cases.

“At the same time all civil servants should be vaccinated and those that fall ill without having been vaccinated will not be entitled to the Covid-19 insurance”, said the minister.

“All civil servants should be tested for Covid-19 at the commencement and end of the two-week rotational interval,” added Minister Mutsvangwa.

Turning to the national vaccination programme, Minister Mutsvangwa said as of Monday over one million people had received their first dose and 643 203 their second dose.

Vaccine deliveries are being accelerated. In the first weeks of the programme 1,76 million doses arrived as gifts or as a commercial order. Two orders totalling 2,5 million doses arrived in the last three and a half weeks and now another pair of orders also totalling 2,5 million doses are expected by Sunday, taking the total to 7,76 million doses.

Among the other logistical arrangements were an order for 2 million syringes also expected on Sunday.

Public Service Commission Secretary Ambassador Jonathan Wutawunashe said social distancing protocols should be observed everywhere in the public service including buses ferrying the public servants now carrying a maximum of 35 passengers.

Heads of ministries should continue ensuring that staff members working from home are capacitated with information communication technology facilities so they can continue to work efficiently and productively.

Chief Coordinator of the National Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic, Dr Agnes Mahomva, welcomed the decongestion of workplaces.

“Government once reduced the numbers before and now we are battling a third wave. This is good as the Government is strengthening all strategies that are vital to curb the spread of Covid-19.

“Reduction in mobility and crowding is good as Covid-19 spreads quickly through the movement of people and crowding. Through this move there will be a reduction of movement in buses and workplaces,” she said.

Harare City Council health services director, Dr Prosper Chonzi said the greater decongestion would help combat the spike in Covid-19 cases.

“The statistics of Covid-19 cases, hospitalisation and deaths are more alarming than before. So the Government’s move to decongest is in line with WHO guidelines which encourage social distancing which is easier to maintain when there are few people at workplaces.

“The winter weather is not on our side, but vaccination will help us a lot. People should continue following Government and WHO protocols,” he said.

Dr Enock Mayida said the move to decongest was commendable since Covid-19 infections and deaths are continuously rising while the larger part of the population is yet to be vaccinated.

“A lot of civil servants share working areas, which make social distancing difficult to maintain so staying at home as much as possible is the surest way of minimising Covid-19 infections as workplaces are increasingly becoming spread centres,” he said.

Mukudzei Chingwere
Herald Reporter

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