Editorial

Covid-19 measures continue

ZAMBIANS have 14 days in which to struggle and continue fighting the Covid-19 pandemic which has ravaged the rest of the world. Cumulatively, this means that Zambia has a 28-day semi lockdown, a period during which certain businesess have been closed.
In his address to the nation yesterday, President Edgar Lungu painfully outlined the measures which he had announced a fortnight ago, and which included the closure of bars, night clubs gyms along with restrictions on restaurants and other public places.
The extension of the health guidelines should not really surprise people because those who follow the Covid-19 impact in other countries, would know that all countries are fearful of relaxing the mitigatory measures.
Some sections of society were probably expecting a relaxation of the rules and regulations on public gatherings because of the current record of more discharge of patients than those who are still admitted for the Covid-19 disease.
But even in other countries, governments are not easing measures, they are in fact strengthening them more.
President Lungu has decided to be cautious and in doing so, praying to save lives despite the economic hardships that this prolonged period of restrictive measures, would have on the large part of the population.
President Lungu noted during his address that he was painfully aware of the struggles that many people were facing as a result of the stiff measures that has made the day-to-day living difficult especially for those in the informal sector.
“I usually have sleepless nights during this period to see how to stop the spread of Covid-19 and my heart bleeds seeing that woman who sell on the streets, that girl in Mazabuka who has a salon and that man who has a barbershop. But we need to do the right thing to ensure that this pandemic does not spread in our country,” Mr Lungu said.
In addition, the President declared that everyone must wear a face mask in public. This means that for someone to jump on a bus or indeed get into town or market, or simply put, go to any public place, they must have a face mask.
For those without masks, they can use a cloth to cover their faces for the period they want to be in a public place. This is a presidential directive and people have no choice but to respect this.
We do not think that this should be a difficult issue or indeed be a subject of debate or be politicised as has happened in the past.
The directive is meant to protect public life because the Covid-19 virus is an invisible enemy that can wipe out an entire generation if due care is not taken.
Zambia is already on a positive trajectory with 24 patients being discharged and no new confirmed cases in the last one week. However, rather than rejoice, we all need to be cautious and collectively help Government by staying home to be safe except for essential workers.
For those who have to keep the wheels of industry moving, the preventive measures provided should be respected.
The President also announced measures to ensure the economy remains sustainable for the period of low economic activity because of restrictions of businesses.
Government has provided K10 billion line of credit to banks that may face liquidity challenges and directed that priority be given to small-scale enterprises.
The government has also revoked statutory instrument for classification and provisioning of loans.
President Lungu also said K2.5 billion has been released by Government to dismantle domestic arrears for local suppliers of goods and services including pensioners and retirees as a stimulus measure to dwindling businesses in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak.
The nation should therefore be assured that Covid-10 is not only being tackled from a health perspective, but also on the economic front to ensure that people’s lives are protected.

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