Statement by MDC Alliance Secretary for Health and Child Welfare Dr Henry Madzorera on the Omicron variant.
About Omicron and how to respond to it
The Omicron variant of SARS CO-V-2 was first identified in Botswana and South Africa just over two weeks ago.
It is now present in all the WHO regions of the world. It has over 30 mutations on its spike protein and this has caused extreme panic among world leaders.
We have seen the introduction of somewhat irrational and knee-jerk decisions that are not guided by science.
It is generally believed that because of the number of mutations of the Omicron variant and the fact that it has all the mutations of previous variants, it is likely to combine all the vicious attributes of previous COVID-19 infections, in terms of transmissibility and possibly, severity of illness.
At this stage, these predictions remain speculation because the epidemic is still unfolding and there is a lot more to learn.
In the meantime, we must all exercise caution and continue to religiously observe all COVID-19 safe protocols.
These include washing our hands regularly with soap, sanitising, wearing masks, respecting cough etiquette, social distancing, avoiding crowded & poorly ventilated rooms, staying outdoors as much as possible and avoiding super spreader events, including funerals, large political gatherings, large celebrations, and ZUPCO buses.
Vaccination of all eligible Zimbabweans remains one of the most important interventions. Government must redouble its efforts to get ten million people vaccinated as soon as possible.
Because of the paucity of information in these early phases of the omicron pandemic, these tried and tested scientifically proven methods of transmission prevention should suffice.
Unfortunately, the ill-thought-out COVID-19 containment measures announced by the developed world do not have the backing of Science and do not inspire any sense of global solidarity in the fight against the pandemic.
As new evidence accrues, we hope those measures will be proven impotent and be reviewed promptly.
The Government of Zimbabwe has also announced measures to contain the virus and prevent a nasty fourth wave.
These measures include mandatory PCR testing for COVID-19 at ports of entry and mandatory quarantine, both at the expense of those travelling.
Unfortunately, these measures have been clumsily imposed without regard for the science and the consequences of the said measures.
Most agree that imposing a mandatory two-week quarantine for persons who test negative is grossly unreasonable and must be reconsidered.
We implore the government to remove the unreasonable border controls, especially the mandatory quarantine particularly for those who test negative.
Mass testing remains important to ensure we isolate those with the infection. The testing should be done by government at a nominal fee and on a not for profit basis.
This is not the time for anybody to profiteer from the pandemic. The economic burden is heavy on the people already. Self-isolation can be done at home as has been in the past.