Two schools in Zimbabwe report 106 cases of COVID-19 in one day

Last Thursday, 51 students tested positive for COVID-19 at Sacred Heart Girls High School in Esigodini and 55 students at Umzingwane High School on the same day.

Zimbabwe’s COVID-19 death rate has remained relatively low, at 1,525, compared to the total population of over 15 million people. However, now that schools have reopened, fears that authorities were not adequately prepared are growing. Health experts have warned of a deadlier “third wave” if proper measures are not put in place, making many think this is just the beginning.

According to the Zimbabwean government, Zimbabwe has received 1,635,000 COVID-19 vaccines in total but only administered the first dose to 123,000 people since mid-February.

In a recent interview, former Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Charles Ray, told Today News Africa that western and wealthy countries cannot ignore the pandemic in Africa, or they will pay for it later. 

“It’s not just a moral responsibility. If we leave pockets of infection around the globe, it hurts us too. In the long run, we’ll pay for it. There has to be a concerted effort on the part of the wealthier nations of the world to ensure that enough vaccines and capabilities to administer those vaccines get to Zimbabwe,” said Ray.

Ambassador Ray went on to describe Zimbabwe’s substandard health care system, including the lack of infrastructure. His comments are coming at a time when many are questioning Zimbabwe’s ability to handle the upswing in COVID-19 cases because even though there have been some improvements made to health care facilities throughout the country, there are also reports of missing funds and a lack of financial accountability.

Zimbabwe’s health minister was recently arrested for allegedly stealing money from inflated Covid-19 medical supplies, paying co-workers “ghost-fees,” using health worker gasoline vouchers for private cars, and hiring relatives to, supposedly, train health workers. 

Zimbabwe had set the goal of inoculating 10-million of its 15-million citizens by the end of the year, but the trajectory of the vaccine procurement and distribution puts the country well below that target. And it’s important to note that the goal was set without considering a “third wave” scenario. 

According to the state-owned Herald newspaper, finance minister Mthuli Ncube said Zimbabwe would procure about one million vaccines every month to reach the herd immunity of 10 million people. 

Kristi Pelzel is a Senior White House correspondent for Today News Africa in Washington D.C. Kristi also covers the US Department of State and the United Nations. She holds a master's degree from Georgetown University.

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