Good evening my fellow Zimbabweans,

Today the National Taskforce on COVID19 met and received reports from its Subcommittees and also to deliberate on the following matters:

COVID19 TESTING AND TREATMENT
The National Taskforce was given an update on the COVID19 confirmed cases as reported on 21 June 2020. Positive cases stand at 489, of these 417 are imported cases, with South Africa, Botswana and the UK being the major contributors, while 72 are local cases.

In light of the increase in COVID19 cases, awareness campaigns in communities on the epidemic have been intensified, with reinforcement of WHO guidelines underway.

Additionally, we have strengthened our surveillance, management and treatment plans and the COVID19 response plan is being fine-tuned. We are paying particular attention to prevalence, areas of high concentration, management of quarantines, treatment and isolation centres.

Presently, all the District, Provincial and Infectious diseases hospitals are now ready to admit COVID19 patients with mild to moderate symptoms that cannot self-isolate in their homes.
Our stocks of drugs and medicines used in the treatment of COVID19 symptoms continue to increase. Presently our stocks include 27.6 million of paracetamol tablets, paracetamol syrup and 2.1 million Vitamin C tablets.

Some of our local pharmaceutical companies have in stock some drugs that are being used to manage COVID19 cases internationally such as dexamethasone which is now being used in UK, ramsidivir which is being used in USA and hydroxchloroquine.

QUARANTINE CENTRES
The National Taskforce noted that presently active quarantine facilities under Government sponsorship across the country stand at 43; while there are 37 private quarantine centres with the majority being in Harare. To date, a total of 9735 persons have been housed at these quarantine facilities, 6801 have been discharged and current enrolment is at 1944. Government continues to enhance systems in order to better manage quarantine facilities and ensure the safety of both returnees and staff.

It has been noted that some returnees are failing to adhere to protective and preventative measures that have been put in place to curb in-house transmission. The purpose of quarantine centres is to screen all those who are coming from outside so that we contain the spread of the virus. Government urges returnees to be responsible citizens as they risk infecting each other if they do not adhere to the protective and preventative measures, within the quarantine facilities. The Taskforce noted that cases of quarantine absconders have gone down with seven returnees absconding last week.

The decrease in the number of absconders is attributed to increased security at quarantine centres and implementation of the Cabinet Directive to withhold returnees’ travel documents upon arrival at ports of entry. As for diplomats, foreign envoys enjoy diplomatic immunity and are only subjected to normal screening in accordance to health protocols upon arrival to the country. They are then allowed to proceed home for self- quarantine at their private residences under the supervision of their respective Heads of Mission.

However, Zimbabwean diplomats, upon return are treated as ordinary returning citizens and are expected to comply with quarantine protocols.

RETURNEES AND REPATRIATION
Government continues to facilitate the repatriation of our citizens in South Africa from the 2600 who initially registered for repatriation. In this regard, 137 Zimbabwean nationals were repatriated from Durban and KZN on 19 June 2020.

In regards to the repatriation of students from foreign countries, it has been established that there are no students on Government scholarships who have signaled a desire to be repatriated back home. However, the only exceptions were 5 students from India, who have since arrived in the country.
Negotiations are underway with financial institutions to set up an ad- hoc ticket loan facility that could enable the purchase of tickets by families who wish to repatriate students who have been self-funding their studies abroad. Families in Zimbabwe would be able to borrow money from such a facility to purchase one-way tickets. The terms and conditions of such a loan facility would be subject to the financial institutions’ internal policies.
Government wishes to commend our staff at our embassies and consulates abroad that have been working and liaising with citizens and students to ensure that their smooth repatriation back home.

On a sad note, the nation is informed that the Consulate in Johannesburg has temporarily closed after two confirmed cases of COVID19 were recorded among the officers. The officers who tested positive had been to Limpopo and Lindela Detention Centre to screen and assist Zimbabweans who were being repatriated home. The total number of recorded positive cases among Consulate staff and dependents now stands at six.
The Consulate is now offering most of its services online to reduce the exposure of officers to contact with those seeking consular services. Meanwhile, two of those who tested positive have been checked into an isolation lodge away from their families.

FOOD AND WATER SUSTAINABILITY
It can be recalled that when Zimbabwe went into a total lockdown at the end of March 2020, places of safety were established to house children and adults living and working on the streets. The National Taskforce received an update from the Food and Water Sustainability Subcommittee on the five main places of safety in Harare, Midlands, Manicaland and Bulawayo Provinces.

It was reported that significant progress has been made in rehabilitating and reuniting inhabitants with their families. There are some 55 inhabitants whose families are still being trained and we hope they will also be reunited with their families soon.

Transport and Logistics
Following reports on erratic hours of operation by some fuel retail outlets, The Attorney General has clarified that fuel retail outlets are classified as an essential service under the lockdown regulations. As such, retail outlets are allowed to conduct trade during their normal hours of operation. Their hours of operation are not confined to 8am to 4.30pm which applies to some other exempted categories of business.

(Conclusion)
My fellow Zimbabweans, ours is a war against an enemy which cannot be identified by the naked eye, and so it requires us to be vigilant at all times. Protective and preventative measures are not suggestions, but requirements which have been put in place to prevent the spread and transmission of COVID19.

There are some among us who are relaxing and this puts not only themselves, but those around them and the nation at risk. Our law enforcement agents will continue to be at hand to assist those who forget that we are still under lockdown, albeit an eased lockdown and as such we should act accordingly.

Let us stay safe out there.

Minister Of Information, Publicity & Broadcasting Services, Hon Monica Mutsvangwa