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Govt allays death fears over second jab delays

Amon Murwira

By Nkosana Dlamini

Government has allayed fears that intervals in excess of the mandatory 14 days required for one to be injected with the two Covid-19 vaccines could result in one’s death, among some dreaded negative effects on one’s health.

This follows concerns raised by backbenchers in parliament Wednesday some people injected with the first jab would spend almost 28 days without taking the second one owing to ongoing confusion in the procurement and administering of the national inoculation exercise.

Since the vaccination drive started, according to government, 1 674 710 had taken their first jab while 798 880 had taken the second one, signalling a discomforting mismatch in the ratios of taking the life-saving drug.

Responding to the MPs, Higher and Tertiary Education minister Amon Murwira, standing in for Health Minister Constantino Chiwenga said Zimbabweans should not be worried about the prescription on the 14-day period.

“…We are saying when people have received the first jab, they will receive their second jab after 14 days. It is not clockwork.

“So, people should not be worried about it. It will still be valid that they will receive their second jab even after 20 days. That is what we are saying,” Murirwa said.

Norton legislator Temba Mliswa was not convinced, telling the Speaker that, “scientists were not stupid” in prescribing the 14-day grace period between the jabs.

Mliswa said the fact that there is a stipulated period in between the two mandatory jabs was designed in the same way one could take their antibiotics.

“You have a course and you cannot miss one for it to be effective. The fact that you miss, it is not effective anymore and it has to be science to tell us why the scientists came with those days.

“The scientists were not stupid because they could have said anytime and the real clarity at the end of the day is that if there are 1.4 million vaccines and I have been injected at Norton Hospital, there must be one for me there so that 14 days is there. The worrying bit is that they are not there,” he said.

Murwira stuck to his guns, insisting no one will die as a result of taking the second jab long after the 14-day waiting period.

Said the minister, “The answer is scientific. It is a minimum of 14 days. Why? Because within the 14 days, the first jab will be taking effect.

“In actual fact, it will be triggering an immune response. After that, some studies are even showing that the more the delay, the better – scientific studies.

“Anyway, the minimum is 14 days. If you go after 30 days, it does not kill anyone. It actually could trigger a stronger immune response.

“So, this is the issue that we are doing. It is very scientific what I am saying.”

Murwira was quick to assure MPs that government’s vaccine procurement method was systematic and tailored to meet the set requirements.

“Zimbabwe has ordered enough vaccines and Zimbabwe is receiving vaccines monthly to the extent that last week alone, we received 1.5 million.

“At this moment, the happy thing is that our people are coming for vaccination in numbers and we really appreciate that to the extent that at this moment, it is us who have to work very hard on methods to ensure that our people are vaccinated quickly and we are doing that.”

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Covid-19: Delta strain plagues Harare  

Constantino Chiwenga

Zimstar News

Government says that 98 percent of Covid-19 tests conducted in Harare lately have been linked to the deadlier Delta strain.

“A genomic sequencing for COVID-19 samples collected in Harare revealed that 98% of the samples were of the Delta variant,” said Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa at a post-cabinet media briefing Tuesday.

Mutsvangwa said the national genomic sequencing survey was also being conducted.

The Delta variant which originated from India, is responsible for massive deaths that battered the populous Asian country before spreading to the rest of the world.

The variant is more transmissible and deathlier than the first variants of the world pandemic.

In her Tuesday briefing, government further reports that as at 2 August, 2021, Zimbabwe’s cumulative Covid-19 cases stood at 110 855, with 79 420 recoveries and 3 635 deaths.

Harare Metropolitan Province has the most number of new infections sitting on 2 361 during the week ending 27 July 2021, to 11 652 in week ending 2 August 2021.

Mashonaland East Province had 1 523, Mashonaland West Province (1 136), Manicaland Province (1 361) and Masvingo Province (1 106).

The recovery rate stands at 72%, with 98% of Covid-19-positive cases being attributable to local transmission. The number of active cases stands at 27 800.

There was a slight decrease in weekly cases from 14 275 during the week under review.

In a bid to arrests fatalities linked to the dreaded disease, government has ramped up its vaccination drive with a total of 1 674 710 people had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 798 880 their second dose across the country.

Government says some 2 500 000 doses of vaccine are set to be acquired through direct purchase in August 2021, while a further 3 500 000 doses will be received during the month of September 2021 under the COVAX facility.

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Long Covid-19 holiday cuts schoolgirls from free pad facility

Schoolgirls

Zimstar News

Government says it has no means to continue rolling out its free sanitary wear facility to school going girls during the current Covid-19 induced school holiday.

Speaking in parliament recently, Justice minister and leader of the house Ziyambi Ziyambi said the continuation of the facility is not feasible when the girls are not attending school.

Ziyambi was asked by Seke-Chikomba MP, Tatenda Mavetera on what measures government has put in place to ensure school going girls continued to benefit from the facility during the current Covid-19 period.

Said Ziyambi who was standing in for Primary and Secondary Education minister, “…The proposal is very difficult to implement. When learners are at home, you do not know where to follow them.

“The programme was targeted for the period when schools are open that then they are able to access, unless if an arrangement which I will request the relevant ministry to find out whether when schools are closed, they can then have a mechanism of those learners going to school to access the sanitary wear.

“The policy generally is; it is agreed that they have to access the sanitary wear.”

Bulawayo proportional representation MP Thokozani Khupe said research has shown that 72% of girls in rural areas do not use commercial sanitary wear but resort to unhygienic means.

Khupe also said 62% of girls miss school every month while menstruating.

Under the country’s laws, Treasury is compelled to release funds to ensure the provision of menstrual health facilities to promote menstrual health.

Zimbabwean schools have remained closed following the continued spike in Covid-19 infections throughout the country.

In his 2020 budget, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube set aside $200 million for the procurement of sanitary wear for schoolgoing girls with priority directed at less privileged rural primary and secondary learners from Grade Four to Upper Six.

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50 000 Zimbos jabbed for Covid-19 daily – minister Ncube

Mthuli Ncube

By Zimstar News reporter

Zimbabwe, which races a fast-spreading Covid-19 pandemic, is vaccinating 50 000 citizens per day.

This was revealed Sunday by Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport as the country took delivery of yet another batch of 1 million Covid-19 Sinovac vaccines and 3 million syringes from China.

“With this 1 million vaccines that we received today, it means that we now have about five and a half million vaccines that we have received so far. And then going forward, we have paid for another six and a half million vaccines which will then take us to 12 million vaccines,” he said.

The minister said the country of 14 million citizens is now administering 50 000 doses of the drug per day.

“So, our vaccination programme and vaccine acquisition programme is going very well. For the first dose, we are already reaching about 50 000 vaccinations per day, which is good going indeed.

“So, all is going well. And we feel that we are well on our way of achieving that target of herd immunity which we need in order to open our economy safely so that the recovery is sustained and we can move from strength to strength with our objectives,” Ncube added.

Zimbabwe battles a devastating third wave of the pandemic that has propelled infections to a cumulative 97 277 cases since outbreak March last year, coupled with 3 050 related deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking the global outbreak.

Although a troubled country in terms of its economy, Zimbabwe is well ahead of other countries on the continent and beyond in its vaccination programme.

The delivery of more vaccines is expected to add impetus to a programme that has seen more citizens turn up in dozens at different vaccination centres throughout the country to receive the jab.

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Publisher Trevor Ncube loses parents, niece to Covid-19

By Zimstar News reporter

Top publisher and veteran journalist Trevor Ncube has announced the sad passing of his mother through Covid-19.

She joins her husband, father to the AMH owner, and a niece to succumb to the dreaded disease in a space of three days.

“My 79 year old mother has passed away due to COVID-19. She has joined Dad and gone to be with the Lord. There is no word for what we are going through. I am praying for many Zimbabweans who are in similar circumstances and worse. Keep the faith,” Ncube tweeted Wednesday.

A day earlier, Ncube also announced the passing of his niece due to the pandemic.

“My niece Lorraine Ncube has succumbed to COVID-19 while we are still dealing with the shock of my father’s passing. My mother is in a high dependency COVID-19 unit oblivious to what has just happened. I am praying for all those in similar circumstances,” Ncube said.

Covid-19 continues to devastate many families in the country with surging deaths and skyrocketing cases being recorded daily.

Government has imposed strict lockdown measures to try and arrest the scourge.

 

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Covid-19: Police, army deployed at chaotic vaccination centres

police-army

By Zimstar News reporter

Government is set to deploy police and the army at Covid-19 vaccination centres around the country amid reports of continued chaos characterising the exercise.

This was said by Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa at a post-cabinet media briefing in Harare Tuesday.

The minister said government has opened the inoculation exercise to all citizens above 18, adding that authorities have also stepped-up efforts to ensure every willing citizen gets the jab.

“Out of the 2 million doses of vaccines that the Ministry of Health and Child Care received on the 8th of July 2021, every province has received 50 000 first doses except just for Harare metropolitan and Bulawayo metropolitan provinces which received 100 000 doses each.

“A total of 1,5 million vaccines will be distributed this coming week. The nation is informed that vaccination is now open to everybody with frontline personnel still being prioritised at vaccination centres,” she said.

Zimbabwe’s inoculation process, while envied by many countries far and beyond, has been marred by chaos and complaints by ordinary citizens that some unscrupulous health personnel distributing the jab at the centres were involved in acts of favouritism, something that continues to inconvenience those who come early for the crucial national health process.

Mutsvangwa said police and the army will now be roped in to bring order at the centres.

“In order to minimise the time spent in queues, extra personnel from security and defence forces has been harnessed so as to increase the numbers of personnel at the vaccination centres,” said the minister.

The involvement of police and the army in processes aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19 is however not new in the country as they have, since outbreak March last year, been tasked to man roadblocks and also enforce other lockdown measures imposed by authorities.

The law enforcement agents’ conduct in executing the national duty has however not been as impeccable as they have often themselves been accused of rights abuses and taking bribes from persons found violating the measures.

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Ex-Harare mayor, wife, maid hospitalised with Covid-19

By Zimstar News reporter

Former Harare mayor, Ben Manyenyeni, wife and maid have been admitted at the privately owned Arundel hospital in Harare after being diagnosed with Covid-19.

Speaking to Zimstar News via call from his hospital bed, Manyenyeni called for prayers for his family adding that he suspected they contracted the dreaded disease after attending a funeral of a Covid-19 victim in Murehwa recently.

“We are sure we got the virus from a super-spreader funeral in Murehwa. A lady with symptoms came to Murehwa from Cape Town to nurse her mother-in-law. The mother-in-law caught the virus and died.

“The funeral was a spreader with a ballooning number of cases,” he said.

The ex-city father said his wife was first to get infected before passing the virus onto the family helper and himself.

Manyenyeni’s wife and the maid were admitted Friday while he got hospitalised this Saturday.

“We are in RED ZONE at Arundel Hospital. I’m the one with least issues, my wife and our helper are battling a bit. I think my Sinopharm Vaccine was key,” he said.

Manyenyeni, who called for prayers from fellow Zimbabweans, had some advice for the rest of his compatriots.

“Zimbabweans, your government has done so well for you with vaccines. Go and vaccinated – you will thank me later,” he said.

The country battles a third wave of the dreaded disease with skyrocketing infections and deaths recorded daily.

Government says deaths and serious ailments are mostly recorded among the unvaccinated.

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Sex ban for Covid-19 vaccinated Russians

Mailonline

Russians have been told to abstain from sex for at least three days after getting vaccinated against Covid.

Dr Denis Graifer, deputy health minister for the Saratov region, said Russian should abstain from ‘increased physical stress’ after being jabbed – including sex.

It comes after Russian were also told to avoid vodka, smoking and visits to the sauna immediately after getting their inoculations.

Russia has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the world, with just 13 per cent of the country fully immunized compared to a European average of 30 per cent.

‘I believe, and everyone knows this, too, that sex is a very energy-consuming activity,’ Dr Graifer told a press conference.

‘So we warn people who have been vaccinated that increased physical activity, including having sex, is not recommended after vaccination.’

Graifer, 38, is a married father of two, and has been vaccinated.

Russia is using its home-grown Sputnik V vaccine for its roll-out, a two-dose adenovirus jab similar to AstraZeneca’s shot.

While the vaccine has yet to gain approval from international health bodies such as the WHO and European Medicines Agency, data gathered from 47 countries where it is in use suggests it is highly effective at stopping severe cases of the virus.

However, take-up in Russia has been low, thanks in part to mistrust of the government and mis-management of the programme.

Graifer – a qualified doctor as well as a politician – was criticised on the Russian state media by a senior medical official who dismissed him as a ‘young colleague’ who had gone over the top with his sex ban.

‘You can do it, just do it with caution,’ said his boss Oleg Kostin referring to sex after vaccines. Russians should ‘have common sense and not overdo it,’ he urged.

Russia is currently in the midst of a third wave of Covid that is thought to be driven by spread of the Delta or Indian variant, which is more transmissible than earlier forms of the virus.

On Friday, the country announced more than 25,000 cases of the disease – the highest total yet in the third wave and approaching the all-time highs of 28,000 cases which occurred over the winter.

Russia also reported more than 700 deaths from the virus, the highest total yet and a strong indication that cases are being under-counted.

This comes as Moscow has been criticised in The Economist for its Covid-19 response.

‘Hundreds of thousands are dead, partly thanks to the Kremlin’s incompetence,’ said the newspaper.

‘Russia is in the midst of its third and most severe wave of Covid-19, with more people dying daily than at any point during the pandemic.

‘The number of new daily cases is currently around 25,000, somewhat fewer than in Britain, and rising.

‘But whereas in Britain this surge has translated into an average of 18 daily deaths over the past week, in Russia it has resulted in an average of 670 deaths a day.

‘The contrast is all the more striking because Russia was the first country in the world to approve a working vaccine, one based on the same science as the British-Swedish AstraZeneca one and apparently just as effective.

‘But whereas in Britain 78% of the population has received at least one jab, in Russia the proportion is only 20%.

‘The difference is not the availability or the efficacy of the jab, but people’s trust in the government and its vaccines.’

Putin’s government had ‘other priorities’ like jailing his political foe Alexei Navalny and banning street protests, claimed the report.

The official Covid-19 death toll is 141,501 although critics say the true figure is higher.

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Govt turns to colleges, bus termini in fresh vaccination drive

By Nkosana Dlamini

Government is now turning to colleges and bus termini as vaccination centres as it ramps up its vaccination drive with eyes set on breaching the 10 million head immunity threshold by end of the year.

This was said Thursday by Health and Child Care deputy minister John Mangwiro as he joined other top government officials to receive 2 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines procured from China.

Said the minister, “The 500 000 (doses) that arrived last week have been consumed so fast that the arrival of these 2 million doses will see the consumption and the rate of vaccination going into top gear.

“We are also recognising that colleges and universities will also be points of vaccination. So, universities, colleges, teachers’ colleges and other places, like we said, GMB, Cottco, tobacco auction floors, misika yese, Renkini and everywhere where people are crowded, be it prisons and everywhere, we are going to be there.”

The country is in the throes of its worst Covid-19 nightmare since outbreak last year, with skyrocketing infections and deaths being recorded everyday.

Government hopes an accelerated vaccination drive could spare the country of the scourge and reopen Zimbabwe’s troubled economy.

Speaking at the same occasion, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said government will press harder of the gas pedal in its inoculation drive with at least 10 million citizens expected to have received their two doses by end of year.

“We are determined to reach that head immunity target of 60 percent of our population being vaccinated as speedily as possible.

“So, we are really going to go out on this blitz programme between now and the end of the year,” he said.

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Covid-19: Govt panics, urges ‘force’ among traditional leaders

By Zimstar News reporter

With signs of panic written all over, government has urged traditional leaders to be more aggressive in enforcing the country’s Covid-19 prevention measures amid a fierce surge in the pandemic in recent weeks.

Government recently decreed a set of rules to be observed in the wake of the third wave which has propelled the country’s confirmed cases to 54 474, coupled with 1 878 associated deaths since outbreak March last year.

Among these is the ban on all gatherings except for funerals which should not however exceed 30 mourners.

At a post-cabinet media briefing Tuesday, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said government has activated stricter measures to try and contain the rampaging disease.

“Funerals have become major spreaders within the Provinces, the Environmental Health Workers and Police are upping their game in the enforcement of the mandatory numbers.

“While Village Health Workers are playing their part in educating villagers, we implore traditional leaders to be more visible and forceful in the enforcement of lockdown regulations,” said minister Mutsvangwa.

Rural areas have been some of the areas in which citizens have been reluctant to observe the regulations.

However, the dreaded disease has engulfed the entire countries with some of the remote areas turning Covid-19 hotspots.

The roping in of traditional leaders in Covid-19 enforcement measures could be a first in the country’s efforts to tame the highly infectious disease.

Traditional leaders have mostly featured in the country’s political discourse with the opposition often accusing them of being used by the ruling Zanu PF to intimidate their subjects into supporting the ruling party.

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