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– Herald

The Public Service Commission (PSC) has ordered ministries to have just 40 percent of staff physically present on duty at any one time with the rest staying at home on standby and available to help with surges.

Units that provide essential services will have higher percentages of staff on duty.

Under the present lockdown rules, no more than half of a potential workforce should be on duty at any one time at any station, although essential services are not bound by this limit.

The thinning of staff on duty will boost safety, making it easier to enforce social distancing and other protocols to minimise risk of infection.

PSC Secretary Ambassador Jonathan Wutawunashe confirmed the thinning of physically present workforces on duty as well as other precautionary measures being enforced.

“We have been looking at the statement so as to conform with the said regulations. As of now we are already at 40 percent of the workforce on duty in compliance with the 50 percent regulation set by the Government. But obviously units that provide essential services will have more staff  at work.

“Some of the measures we have already been complying with and that will continue, like we are fumigating offices every week and we carry our staff to and from work by the PSC buses to ensure they are safe,” said Ambassador Wutawunashe.

Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, in his capacity as Health and Child Care Minister, announced the intensified lockdown measures on Saturday, which came into effect yesterday with most sectors complying.

The measures have already been endorsed by the World Health Organisation as a prompt, effective and welcome measure following last week’s noticeable rise in Covid-19 infection rates.

However, some sections are challenging the new measures, citing economic challenges, but President Mnangagwa from the outset made it very clear that his administration will prioritise life over the economy which can always be looked at.

The Ministry of Health and Child Care said the units that have been allowed to continue giving essential services, is not an endorsement that their operations cannot risk more transmissions, but it has been done in a delicate way to ensure the economy remains on its wheels.

Speaking to The Herald yesterday, Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro explained the rationality of the intensified lockdown measures which minimise social contact.

“We are not focusing on punishing people. The measures are not meant to be punitive but rather pulling all stops to contain the pandemic, after cases have started to rise.

“It is easy for some sectors to say give us a reprieve and allow us to operate normally like before, but at the same time this comes with serious health consequences especially during a global pandemic of this magnitude,” said Dr Mangwiro.

“We know some of these restrictions have a huge effect on people’s livelihoods but we appeal to people to adhere to these measures which are meant to save lives by keeping the virus in check and under control.

“So what we are doing now is to continue to appeal to our people that they must adhere to all Government and WHO mitigatory measures.

“Avoid unnecessary gatherings, mask up, sanitise and take up the vaccine when an opportunity is availed through our national vaccination rollout programme. The vaccine is, for now, our biggest hope at beating the pandemic,”

said Dr Mangwiro.

Meanwhile, the Government says Natpharm is now transforming in the direction the country is going.

Dr Mangwiro made the remarks at the Natpharm offices in Harare yesterday while officially receiving medical supplies donated by Newavakash International to the Government.

“Orders are now getting to the last rural health centre in Zimbabwe, delivered by Natpharm. Transforming from a system where things were being delivered three times a year, now they are delivering things as per request.

“I am happy to say that I also saw the plant. In two weeks’ time Natpharm will be producing detergents and sanitisers in the right direction where we said Natpharm should be doing, that is manufacturing, storage and distribution.

“So they are fulfilling this and they are working together with Harare Institute of Technology, one of our universities. This is the direction the country is being taken by His Excellency Dr ED Mnangagwa,”

said Dr Mangwiro.

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