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COVID-19: ZCTU calls for national lockdown

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has called for an urgent complete national lockdown to contain the Coronavirus (COVID-19) which claimed the life of media personality Zororo Makamba in Harare this week.

Zimbabwe has so far recorded three confirmed cases of the pandemic, which has brought the whole world to a standstill.

The pandemic, first detected in China in December last year, has spread all over the globe and so far claimed more than 18 589 lives according to data collected by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

However, nearly 108,000 of the 414,277 people diagnosed with the disease have recovered.

While some African countries, such as Uganda, Rwanda and others have gone on shutdown, with South Africa following at midnight as part of measures to deal with COVID-19, Zimbabwe is yet to take that route.

Announcing sweeping measures and bans to halt the spread of COVID-19 Monday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said where possible, employers were encouraged to reduce human concentrations at workplaces.

He said non-essential staff or essential staff whose services could be rendered from home should be allowed to work away from their work stations.

The government has since directed that all its offices be alternatively manned by a third of its staff on a fortnight basis with effect from tomorrow while the rest remain at their homes.

But ZCTU is of the idea that a complete shut-down should be the way to go now.

“For now we think the main consideration should be health and safety of Zimbabweans in general and workers in particular,” ZCTU president, Peter Mutasa told CITE.

“What we need is an urgent lockdown that is well-coordinated and that breaks the chain of infections. Whether workers are going to be able to work from home or not shouldn’t be the deciding factor. The important objective should be to stop an exponential growth of new infections.”

Mutasa said ZCTU was however mindful the economy was at its lowest and that any productive day lost “adds to the misery.”

“We are also cognisant of the fact that most workers both in formal and informal sectors live from hand to mouth,” explained Mutasa.

“As a result, we welcome any opportunity for workers to continue working from home during the lockdown. We also think this is one of the secure means of maintaining essential services during the lockdown.”

Meanwhile, South Africa’s national shutdown takes effect at midnight.

During the shutdown shops and businesses will be closed, with the exemption of pharmacies, laboratories, banks, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, supermarkets, petrol stations and healthcare providers.

Health workers, emergency personnel and security services will be allowed to work, while soldiers will be deployed to patrol the streets in support of the police.

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