Zimbabwe is creating 500 new nursing posts at Covid-19 treatment centres around the country, while it moves to review risk allowances for frontline workers, a cabinet minister said on Thursday.
The last week has been the most devastating for Zimbabwe since the virus was first detected in March last year, claiming – among dozens of daily deaths – the lives of two ministers and a former governor of the central bank.
The government is fearful of job boycotts by health workers who say they are not being provided adequate personal protective equipment and are overwhelmed.
“The government through the national taskforce on Covid-19 owes health workers a debt of gratitude. Those who work in the red zones which deal with the care of Covid-19 patients will have their risk allowances reviewed with the intention of compensating them adequately,” acting information minister Jenfan Muswere said in a statement on Thursday.
Five hundred news nursing posts will be filled “to augment staff complement at treatments centres and risk allowances to frontline workers are being reviewed,” he added.
Thousands of nurses who graduated in recent years are sitting at home after the broke government froze recruitment. But a spike in new infections and deaths has forced the government into a rethink.
Zimbabwe reported 733 new Covid-19 infections on Wednesday including 54 deaths as the virus threatens to overwhelm health services.
The ministry of health said 257 of the 733 were hospitalised, 151 of them with mild symptoms, 56 severe and 20 in the intensive care.
To date, the country has recorded 29,408 cases and 879 deaths.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa buried Manicaland provincial minister Ellen Gwaradzimba and liberation stalwart Moton Malianga at the National Heroes Acre in Harare on Thursday, a day after he announced the death of foreign minister Sibusiso Moyo – all victims of Covid-19.
Muswere said a Draft Vaccination Framework Programme was now in place as the country prepares to roll out a vaccination campaign which the government says will be voluntary.
The country will receive three million doses from an African Union allocation of 270 million doses.
African Union chairman Cyril Ramaphosa last week revealed that the continent had secured doses for member states under the COVAX scheme.
The vaccines, sourced by the AU’s Vaccine Acquisition Task Force, will be supplied by Pfizer and AstraZeneca through the Serum Institute of India, and Johnson & Johnson, Ramaphosa said.