Reopening of schools latest: Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa updates Zimbabweans

Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa

SCHOOLS will reopen in a phased approach with examination classes commencing on August 30, the remaining ones resuming on September 6, with Government extending the ongoing Covid-19 vaccination programme to the 14-17-year age group.

The ban on intercity travel was also lifted to allow learners to be transported to schools during the period.

Restaurants are also now allowed to reopen for sit-in customers who are fully vaccinated subject to the production of vaccination cards and strict adherence to Covid-19 protocols.

Schools were scheduled to reopen on June 28 for the second term but due to a spike in Covid-19 infections, Government was forced to postpone face-to-face learning.

On Tuesday, Government announced the extension of the enhanced Level Four National Lockdown by a further two weeks.

Last month, Government sent inspectors to schools across the country to assess their readiness to reopen and has set aside $368,2 million to fund the enforcement of Level 4 Lockdown measures.

In her post-Cabinet media briefing yesterday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said Government noted with satisfaction progress made in the implementation of the joint operational plan of the standard guidelines by the Ministries of Primary and Secondary Education and Health and Child Care for the coordinated prevention and management of Covid-19 at schools.

“Noting with satisfaction the preparations for the resumption of classes in schools, Cabinet is advising that schools will reopen on 30 August, 2021 for examination classes, and on 6 September, 2021 for non-examination classes. As such, the inter-city and intra-city transportation for learners will be allowed during schools reopening periods, subject to close monitoring by law enforcement agencies,” she said.

The minister said the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education also met with teacher organisations and deliberated on the safe reopening of schools, among other issues.

“The nation is further informed that restaurants will be allowed to reopen for sit-in patrons who are fully vaccinated subject to the production of vaccination cards and strict adherence to Covid-19 protocols.”

Minister Mutsvangwa said Government is urging citizens to continue adhering to World Health Organisation (WHO) protocols and national health guidelines as part of efforts to contain the third wave and thwart the possibility of a fourth one.

The Ministry of Health and Child Care weekly Covid-19 report shows that there has been a downward trend of new infections this week.

As of August 24, 2021, Zimbabwe’s cumulative Covid-19 cases stood at 123 320, with 108 660 recoveries and 4 320 deaths.

The recovery rate stands at 88 percent, with 99 percent of Covid-19-positive cases being attributed to local transmission. The number of active cases stands at 10 340.

Minister Mutsvangwa said the country has already acquired 13 million doses out of the 20 million required in order to achieve herd immunity.

“On the advice of scientists, the vaccination programme will also be extended to the 14 to 17-year age group. Given the current vaccination statistics, Cabinet is confident that herd immunity will be achieved by December 2021,” she said.

“In the spirit of regional cooperation and solidarity, the Government will also donate 20 000 doses of vaccines to the Government of Namibia. The Chinese Government has donated another 500 000 doses, while the Serbian Government has made a donation of 30 000 Sputnik V vaccine doses.”

The country is next month expected to receive 2 500 000 million doses of vaccines under direct purchase, and 943 200 doses under the COVAX programme.

As of August 24, a total of 2 382 359 people had received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and 1 506 445 their second dose across the country.

Minister Mutsvangwa said the Ministry of Health and Child Care will employ several strategies in the rolling out of the vaccination exercise, which include expanding the engagement of the private sector, involving churches, universities and other institutions of higher learning as well as accelerating outreach campaigns taking advantage of the Integrated Expanded Programme for Immunisation.

Minister Mutsvangwa said the Beitbridge Border Post quarantine centre received 24 deportees, while Plumtree took in 40, bringing the number of returnees received through all ports of entry to 31 249 as at August 19, 2021.

The highest coverage of the first dose was recorded in Victoria Falls Town (97,8%), Chirundu (97,6%), Chiredzi (87,6%), Kariba (75,6%) and Nyamapanda (68,9%). The highest coverage for the 2nd dose was recorded in Victoria Falls (75,8%), Chiredzi (59.4%), Kariba (48.7%), and Nyamapanda (43,7%). Government also targeted and vaccinated people working on the following economic projects, namely: Hwange Energy project in Hwange; new Parliament Building in Mount Hampden and Gwayi-Shangani Dam Matabeleland North.

– Herald

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