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THE World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that the risk of the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is high, owing to significant reduction in adherence to public health and social measures to curb the spread of the virus.

Speaking during a Harare provincial virtual workshop on safe management of funerals, WHO health experts said relaxed behaviour among members of the public and lack of adherence to COVID-19 health protocols were putting the Zimbabwean population at risk of being affected by the fourth wave of the global pandemic.

WHO Zimbabwe infections and hazard management officer Nkosi Mpala said in several countries there was limited COVID-19 testing and investigation of new infection cases.

Mpala said limited contact tracing also posed great risks and might have serious impact on the looming fourth wave of the respiratory virus which is expected to strike the country by December.

“People are already talking about the fourth wave and we need to be prepared because complacency among the general public has already started creeping in,” Mpala said.

“Epidemiological trends on COVID-19 show that there are reduced testing capacities and contact tracing, with low vaccination coverage in several countries, which points that the risk of the new wave is very high,” Mpala said.

The country is under level two lockdown, following a recession in both new cases and deaths during the third wave of the pandemic.

On Monday, the country did not record any COVID-19 deaths for the first time since the country started battling the third wave of the pandemic in June and July, while 76 new cases were recorded.

Health expert Admire Dombojena said following the reopening of the economy, Harare province had become a hive of activity, which exposed its population to greater risk of being affected by the coronavirus.

“Harare’s huge population and informal activities carried out daily makes it easy for COVID-19 to spread. Therefore, Harare requires more efforts to limit the spread,” Dombojena said.

WHO Zimbabwe spokesperson Priscilla Mangwiro urged traditional leaders to provide accurate information to their subjects on COVID-19, in order to avoid misinformation as they were regarded as  reliable sources of information.

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