A new leading trending menace of Covid-19, workplace virus spread has hit Zimbabwe following the relaxation of lockdown regulations. A number of workstations, have temporally closed in fear of a fast spread of the pandemic, while opening up virtual communications for customers.
Workplace spread has emanated from sharing of computers, telephone, handsets and any another work equipment that is within work premises.
Some of the companies which have temporally closed some of their branches include Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA), Cimas Medical Aid Society, and NMB Bank Limited.
On Thursday last week, 21 Cimas Medical Aid Society employees stationed in Harare tested positive for Covid-19 while, some front line health workers at Mpilo Central Hospital and United Bulawayo Hospitals tested positive for Covid-19. Meanwhile Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) branch in Bulawayo has temporalily closed after recording a workplace case which claimed the life of a senior manager.
On the 20th of July NMB bank released a statement notifying a temporary closure of one of its branches.
“One of our Southerton branch staff members who was last at work on Friday 10 July has tested positive for Covid-19. As a result, a decision has been taken to temporarily close the Southerton branch from 20 July 2020 to August 3 2020. The branch staff are undergoing testing and have proceeded on the 14-day quarantine. As a precautionary measure the NMB Southerton premises have been disinfected,” said NMB Bank Chief executive officer Benefit Washaya.
Mpilo Central Hospital acting chief executive officer Professor Solwayo Ngwenya, highlighted that workplaces are fast becoming sources of spreading the pandemic though sharing work equipment and materials.
“Because the virus is extremely infectious, if you get one person in a workplace, they can infect everyone. So, the threat is very high because in the workplace people tend to share common rooms and tea room, the virus can stay on utensils and hard surfaces for a long time up to nine days. So, we can say workplaces are high risks,” said Ngwenya.
He further highlighted that workers in most scenarios have not been practicing social distancing.
“This virus is very difficult to manage, the only way is to put a distance from one person to the other and the distance should be at least two metres and this is not possible in most workplaces that people be two metres apart. If you are close and one person gets it, you are going to get it even if you are disinfecting the premises,” added Ngwenya.
Due to recent cases of workplace spread, Ngwenya called for tightening of lockdown measures.
“What I can tell you is that this is the reason why I have been squealing and making noise for four months because I know the huge impact of Covid-19. It’s a big blow to humanity. The ventilators we have are inadequate for our usual setting. They are not adequate for the usual settings, now imagine, we have this huge storm,” said Ngwenya,
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavima said workplaces are dangerous hotpots for spreading the virus at home and he has deployed inspectors to randomly inspect compliance in companies and his ministry is satisfied with the level of compliance.
“However, you ought to realise that once the workers have left the work place they are also going home and to their communities. The precaution should not stop at work.” said Prof Mavima.
Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZIMA) President Dr Francis Chiwora noted that citizens are now slowly not adhering to covid-19 health precautions.
“…you find people spending afternoons at shopping centres and drinking publicly from cars. Most people will get the virus from such social circles. It helps no one to fear getting into a bank queue where there is no social distancing, but to spend the day drinking in the open with friends, when you do not even know where they have been,” said Dr Chiwora.
Zimbabwe COVID 19 Cases have, as of the 19th of July claimed 26 lives with 1536 confirmed cases.
Liberty Pazvakawambwa SADC News Correspondent- Zimbabwe