How can LAs respond to COVID-19?

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The novel COVID outbreak presents significant challenges for the Zimbabwean government and the devolved administrations, including local authorities. Local Authorities are responsible for the primary health care of the country, being responsible for the infrastructure and maintenance of Council clinics and under the Public Health Act 15:9 (23) are to provide suitable isolation hospital for the accommodation and treatment of people suffering from infectious diseases. The socio-economic situation in Zimbabwe has hindered the implementation of LAs responsibility and thus infection control has been heavily compromised.

Following the unprecedented worldwide developments around COVID-19 (coronavirus), COVID-19 was declared a national disaster by His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe on the 17 th of March 2020. This declaration was followed by various guidelines by the Government with regards to social distancing, limiting non-essential travel and banning public gatherings of more than 50 people just to name a few.

As Local Authorities grapple with the new reality that social distancing is the only known measure to control the coronavirus, how can Local authorities effectively and efficiently implement this whilst fulfilling their mandate? Local Authorities still have an important role to play, especially in social distancing. Vital services such as refuse collection, water provision and health care are important.

How can Local Authorities deal with COVID-19?

  • Enact business continuity plans to ensure that they are able to
    maintain level of service that fulfills their core mandate.
  • Public health advice on COVID-19 to be widely publicized ad
    regularly updated.
  • Council workers to carry out their work with enhanced precautions to
    limit infection.
  • Closure of public non-essential services e.g. Swimming Pools,
    Libraries, Recreational and Vocational Training Centers.
  • Postpone events facilitated and managed by Council.
  • Provide advice to first responder's, employers, the justice system, old
    peoples homes and educational institutions.
  • Encourage social distancing by raising awareness on online
    platforms for communication and payments Council.

  • Work with local organisations for joint planning. A coordinated
    approach ensures the best use of resources to achieve the best

How can the public support their Local Authorities?

  • Follow Public Health Authorities’ advice e.g. handwashing,
    coughing/sneezing in the elbow, no hand shaking.

  • Being understanding of the pressures that the Local Authorities may
    be under, and receptive to changes that maybe needed to the
    provision of care to you and your family.

  • Reducing the impact and spread of misinformation by relying on
    information from verified sources.

  • Using online platforms to communicate with Council and pay Council
    obligations (rates).

  • Accepting and practicing the advice for managing COVID-19 for most
    people will be self-isolation/ social distancing at home.

  • Keeping abreast with new advice as the situation changes.