COVID-19: Govt announces ‘schools to reopen in phases’

  • Church gatherings increased upwards from 50 to 100

Cabinet on Tuesday resolved that schools will reopen in phases while church gatherings will now be allowed up to 100 people from a previous 50.

The relaxation of restrictions come as Cabinet noted that infection rates have slowed down and deaths are decreasing.

“Cabinet assures members of the public that there has not been increase in the death rate in Zimbabwe as alleged by some unsubstantiated social media reports,” Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services minister Monica Mutsvangwa told the media during Tuesday’s post Cabinet briefing.

Mutsvangwa noted that the Law and Order Sub-Committee compiled and compared data from the Central Registry on the country’s recorded deaths for the period January to August 2019 against the same period this year (2020).

The data revealed that more people (45 256) died in 2019 than in 2020 (33 818) notwithstanding the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mutsvangwa said Cabinet was informed that the Experts Advisory Committee conducted a modeling exercise on current local and international COVID-19 data and noted that the Zimbabwe epidemic has not peaked as previously predicted due to the control measures that have been put in place.

“The Committee also concluded that the decreasing number of new infections is an indication of an epidemic coming under control. Cabinet, however, emphasizes that the public should continue being vigilant in adhering to COVID-19 containment measures as the effects of COVID-19 will continue to be felt until a vaccine is found,” Mutsvangwa said.

Cabinet noted that all the necessary measures are being taken to ensure that schools are reopened for examination classes in a safe environment.

“Progress has been made on the comprehensive logistical plan for the coordinated, accelerated completion of the schools’ WASH project; the supply and distribution of PPE, hygiene kits, disinfectants, and infrared thermometers to all public schools,” Mutsvangwa said.

Most of the Districts are reporting improved levels of preparedness by schools, she added.

Cabinet approved that a COVID-19 sentinel surveillance system be established in schools to monitor the behaviour of the virus and make adjustments where necessary.

“There will also be dedicated ZUPCO buses to ferry learners to schools for examinations,” the Information minister continued.

“Cabinet is pleased to announce that Cambridge Examination Centres reopened successfully on 14 September 2020 and no health incidents were reported. In light of the high level of preparedness in the education sector, schools will be reopened in a phased manner,” she added.

Phase 1 will open on September 28; this will entail Grade 7, Forms 4 and 6.

Phase 2 will open on 26 October 2020, and will involve Grade 6, Form 3 and 5.

Phase 3 will open on 9 November 2020 covering the rest of the learners which covers ECD A and B, Grade 1,2,3,4,5, Form 1 and 2.