Bulawayo City Council

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Mayor's Weekly Speech

Remarks by his worship Solomon Mnguni the mayor on COVID -19 before the full council meeting of Wednesday, 1 April 2020 at 16:30 hours.

  1. Aldermen and councillors
  2. Town clerk, Mr C Dube
  3. Heads of council departments
  4. Bulawayo citizens

As you may be well aware, following the presidential announcement of Friday, 27 march 2020 the nation is on a 21-day lockdown from Monday, 30 march 2020.

To this end, council implemented the measures set out in the statutory instrument 83 of 2020, [public health (COVID -19 prevention, containment and treatment) (national lockdown) order, 2020) which states that :- local government organisations providing essential services such as hospital services, fire brigade and ambulance services, sewerage or sanitary services and supply and distribution of water are to remain open during the 21 day countrywide lockdown to ensure the smooth provision of municipal services.

We further advise members of the public that while the services are available, they are at a minimal extent to reduce staff burn out and also to minimise staff risk of the COVID -19 virus. To ensure the smooth running of the health care system in Bulawayo, our health services staff are available throughout the duration of this period and are working hard to ensure that we are not affected by the scourge.

Aldermen and councillors, i am glad that as at yesterday, the city of Bulawayo does not have any cases of people who have tested positive to the COVID – 19 virus. We are grateful to god for his mercy in keeping us. We appreciate our emergency preparedness team (e. P. R) that has been active on the ground conducting surveillance, tests and also conducting health education to the members of the public.

The public health surveillance activities are in place to assist in the early detection, monitoring, prediction and prevention of human illness. These have been assisting in the interpretation of data to facilitate both prevention and control of diseases. Surveillance has been conducted in a number of ways. The city through the E.P.R team has been conducting event based surveillance where we have been making a follow up of adhoc reports and rumours about events that are a potential risk to the public health in light of COVID 19. The rapid response teams in Bulawayo were activated on the 27th February 2020 when the first rumour was received and we have been making follow ups to date.

The number of people who have been followed up under this have been thirty-six (36), while twenty-one (21) specimens have been collected with eleven (11) negative and ten (10) pending (sent between 30 and 31 march 2020). It should be noted that the turnaround time of the national microbiology laboratory has been approximately 48 hours.

The city has also been conducting travellers surveillance from February to march 2020. There was a noticeable increase in the influx of travellers reported by the ports of entry from February four hundred and ninety-eight (498) to march 2020 six hundred and twenty-seven (627). The total number of visitors that have come into Bulawayo from areas with confirmed covid-19 cases and possibly active local transmission is 1125. 100% of all travellers that came into the country during the month of February 2020 have been followed up at least once and are all asymptomatic (of a condition or a person) producing or showing no symptoms) the list of travellers that came into the country during the month of march 2020 was received at the end of this past week. It has a total of 627 travellers that are currently being followed up by city’s environmental health practitioners.

The city of Bulawayo continues to implement protective factors to reduce the general risk of transmission. These include activities such as contact tracing, active case finding, intensified shop inspections, health education on key messages that include self-isolation, social distancing, and hygiene practices; with special emphasis on the importance of staying at home to break the chain of transmission. There is ongoing monitoring of the implementation of preventive measures that include:

  • limitation of customers inside food shops per given time as some are currently open, social distancing outside shops and provision of sanitation facilities at each entrance.
  • decongestion and reduction of vending stalls at the markets e.g. 5th avenue in line with the social distancing recommendation (at least 1 metre apart), health and hygiene education, sanitizer or water point with hand washing soap to be set up.
  • Limitation of the number of mourners at the cemetery to a maximum of thirty (30).
  • Limitation of attendees at gatherings such as churches, weddings, meetings, etc. To less than 50 and maintain social distancing.
  • Re-engagement of Zupco company currently transporting people on the number of passengers per given time, management of queues before passengers embark on the buses, maintenance of social distance and provision of sanitation equipment in all vehicles and offices. Risk communication team is on the ground engaging ZRP to enforce and also educating the public on the disease.

Aldermen and councillors, the city through the call centre receives on average 13 calls per day from members of the public who suspect they might have COVID -19 or who suspect others near them may have COVID – 19. These are also followed up by the rapid response teams. We continue urging members of the public to use these platforms for obtaining information and also for making reports on suspect cases. We discourage suspect cases moving around and may i also urge those on self-isolation to adhere to the recommendations made by the health care professionals.

As we continue to fight against the spread of covid-19 may i extend appreciation to various stakeholders and partners who have come forward to assist in numerous ways. This morning, i was at the Thorngrove hospital where i received donations from various stakeholders and also met with donors who are going to be assisting the city in our preparedness and response towards covid -19. May i extend my appreciation to the following:-

  • Qoki zindlovukazi (UK based Zimbabwean) who donated groceries.
  • Psi Zimbabwe ( ffp2 face masks, liquid soap)
  • Ophid trust (sanitisers, surgical masks and latex gloves)
  • Rainbow hotel Bulawayo (bed sheets), pillow slips and bath towels)
  • Thuthuka Matabeleland trust (groceries)
  • Bulawayo babies (face masks)
  • Chloride zimbabwe (who will be putting up a solar back up system at the isolation ward)

We are also aware of the various partners who are working tirelessly to organise funds to revamp the hospital. We appreciate you and your efforts. Lingadinwa lakusasa. Let us continue to wash our hands and practice social distancing.

I thank you.

Siyabonga.

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