ACTIONAID Zambia country director Nalucha Ziba the Ministry of Health was in order to lift COVID-19 restrictions, noting that most small businesses were still recovering from their effects.

And Ziba has urged the Ministry of Health and its partners to ensure strict adherence to the five COVID-19 golden rules to curb the spread of a suspected “Malaria like flu”.

In an interview, Ziba said the COVID-19 restrictions had led to a partial collapse of the economy.

“The decision by the Ministry of Health to lift some Covid-19 restrictions was not wrong. The restrictions that were enforced previously, had negatively impacted the social and economic sectors of the country in Education, Religion, and more so, the small-scale business (SMEs) I.e., the restaurants, bars, saloons, barbershops and marketeers. Most of which are still recovering from effects of the restrictions. The measures that were imposed, led to a partial collapse in the economy as trade was affected from the domestic level to national,” she said.

“The move to remove the restrictions was inevitable, as overall 88.7% of the employed Zambian population work informally. 87.5% are informal workers employed in the informal sector, 1.2% are informal workers employed in the formal sector while 11.3% are formal workers employed in the formal sector, according to ILO. Based on these statistics, not lifting the Covid-19 restrictions was going to mean impoverishment of the already self-employed households who are already struggling to earn a living. Lifting the restrictions was a way to create an equilibrium and-or sustain the economy.”

She, however, noted that the lifting of the restrictions did not entail abandoning COVID-19 adherence in relation to the enforcement of public health regulations.

“However, as ActionAid, we note that the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions does not entail abandoning Covid-19 adherence in relation to enforcement of public health regulations that have been put in place. It is important that the public health inspectors from the Ministry of Health and Local government continue to ensure strict adherence to the five golden rules of Covid-19 while the wheels of the economy continue running,” said Ziba.

“With the suspected spreading of a “Malaria like flu” across Zambia, it is pertinent that the Ministry and its counterparts to quickly move in to and enforce the five golden rules, namely, Wash hands often, Don’t touch your face, Keep physical distance, Cover your cough, Sick? Stay home. The Ministry and its counterparts should as well scale up the preventative measures in the fight against Covid-19. This would be to curb the spread of this suspected flu and avoid Covid-19 restrictions that would lead to a total lockdown.”