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25 Bulawayo suburbs hard hit by Covid-19

Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
TWENTY-FIVE of Bulawayo’s forty suburbs have been hard hit by Covid-19 and residents have been warned against being complacent as the global pandemic has reached most parts of the city.

The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) yesterday released a graphic illustration of cases that were recorded on Monday when the city had 716 positive cases, inclusive of 667 local transmissions and 49 imported cases and 88 recoveries.

The statistics show that Cowdray Park with 45 cases has the highest number of confirmed cases in the city while all Pumula suburbs have 45 cases, Mpilo Central Hospital, although not a suburb has 41, Magwegwe suburbs 28, Lobengula suburbs 29 and Nkulumane 27.

The cases are distributed across western suburbs like Makokoba, Mzilikazi, Njube, Entumbane, Luveve, Matshobana.

The city centre, Northend, Suburbs, Kumalo, Parklands, Woodlands, Riverside, Montrose, and other suburbs in the eastern areas also have Covid-19 cases.

BCC director of health services Dr Edwin Sibanda said the council would be releasing the graphic illustration of Covid-19 cases twice a week so that residents can have an appreciation of the extent of cases in residential areas.

“We are trying to show the suburb with the most cases. Going forward we will reconfigure the graphic illustration so that it becomes like a football log table. We think a lot of people understand football, so we will structure it like a log table revealing suburbs with most cases, deaths, new infections and recoveries. Maybe on Friday, that is how the table will be like,” said Dr Sibanda.

The city, during a multisectoral taskforce meeting that has been set up to tackle the fast rising Covid-19 cases in Bulawayo, identified Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) buses, shebeens, market places, water pick up points as some of the Covid-19 hotspots.

The taskforce includes residents, civil society organisations, civil servants, council employees and the city’s political leadership inclusive of councillors, city mayor Councillor Solomon Mguni and the Provincial Minister Judith Ncube.

The task force agreed to set up committees to disseminate information while enforcing lockdown regulations.

Bulawayo town clerk Mr Christopher Dube raised concerns over neglect of Covid-19 patients admitted to isolation centres revealing that some of them were stigmatised, even by health workers.

The city’s chamber secretary, Mrs Sikhangele Zhou said residents should not read much into identified Covid-19 hotspots but take precautionary measures even in perceived low-risk areas. Minister Ncube said with rising Covid-19 cases, in the city it was prudent to have an all stakeholder approach in fighting the global pandemic.

“What we are trying to achieve is to create a sense of ownership from the residents. The lower structures, the district and ward structures, they are very key in fighting Covid-19. If you talk about shebeens, the ward structures and the district structures would know better where the shebeens are. Hence there is a need for us to involve all stakeholders so that we are able to talk to each other and create that awareness,” said Minister Ncube.

She said behaviour change is necessary if Bulawayo is to effectively deal with Covid-19.

“Some of the people put on the mask when they see the police and immediately remove it when the police pass. We need to take charge of our lives. We recommended that we involve the leaders of Bulawayo be it from Bulawayo United Residents Association or Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association or councillors. Everyone should be involved in,” she said.

Minister Ncube said she engaged Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube on providing funds for the rehabilitation of the Epping Forest to augment water supplies in Bulawayo.

The city’s dam levels have dropped to 25 percent and most residents are struggling to access potable water as the council has implemented 144-hour weekly water-shedding exercise.

Cllr Mguni said Bulawayo Covid-19 cases are of concern requiring that residents be proactive in fighting the pandemic.

“We need to decentralise and cascade our structures down to the districts, wards and even the streets of Bulawayo so that we are able to conscientise our people to the effects and risk of this pandemic. This is why we had to share this with the administrative leaders of the city and province and political leadership. It’s a multi-sectoral approach to this pandemic. Bulawayo finds itself as the epicentre and this is what we are trying to arrest,” said Cllr Mguni.