Zimbabwe’s capital Harare and the country’s second-largest city Bulawayo have been identified as the regions facing the highest risk of a deadly third wave of COVID-19 infections and deaths, according to the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
The two regions have the highest incidence risk assessment based on recorded infection trends, according to the ministry.
The assessment measures the number of likely infections per 100,000 people.
According to the ministry, Bulawayo has the highest incidence risk of 906 while Harare has 567 and Matabeleland South, the rural province with the highest incidence risk, has 402.
It is suspected that the proximity of Bulawayo and Matabeleland South to South Africa, which is currently experiencing a resurgence in infections, may be a contributing factor.
The warning comes following reports that the southern African country’s seven-day rolling average for infections surged from 13 to 900 per day in 14 days.
Local media reports say the three areas have reported surges in the numbers of cases with Bulawayo suffering shortages of hospital space and beds for COVID-19 patients.
“This means we must pull up our socks and avert this disaster that is coming and do the correct things like testing, contact tracing, quarantine and all those things that curb the spread of the pandemic,” Professor Solwayo Ngwenya, a health expert, told local media outlet the Chronicle.
Ngwenya further warned that as much as half of Zimbabwe’s population could contract the virus if health regulations were strictly adhered to.
Zimbabwe’s national COVID-19 chief coordinator Dr. Agnes Mahomva said laxity had resulted in the existing situation.
“This is really of concern and we need to make sure that we are complying with all the recommended guidelines if we seriously want this epidemic to end soon,” Mahomva said.
Zimbabwe has reported more than 54,000 confirmed cases and more than 1,800 deaths, according to ministry figures.