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Zimbabwe Imposes New Lockdown To Contain Fresh Surge in COVID-19

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – A new surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths has seen Zimbabwe government imposing another strict 30-day lockdown and 12-hour curfew from 6am to 6am.

Zimbabwe recorded just above 8000 new cases between March and November last year but the numbers almost doubled starting in December until January 2, jumping to a cumulative 14 491 and 377 deaths by January 2 prompting the government to re-close its economy as a way of containing the virus.

Even schools that were meant to open on January 4 have been deferred with only those classes writing examinations expected back in school until February 5 when they finish.

There was a huge surge in Covid-19 cases during the festive season where close to 1, 500 cases and 29 deaths were recorded in a week representing the highest number in the country so far.

With President Mnangagwa on his month long annual leave, Vice President Costantino Chiwenga who is also Health Minister announced the new lockdown at a press conference on Saturday evening.

“In view of the surge in Covid-19 cases the government has intensified testing and patient care throughout all provinces. The following stiff lockdown measures are being put in place with immediate effect: Gatherings are reduced to not more than 30 people at all funerals. All other gatherings at weddings, churches, bars, bottle stores, gymnasiums, restaurants are banned for 30 days.

“The existing Covid-19 preventive health measures will be strictly enforced, that is to say correct wearing of masks, social distancing, hand sanitization and temperature checks will be strictly enforced and offenders will be prosecuted,” said VP Chiwenga.

He said only essential services such as hospitals, pharmacies, and supermarkets are to remain open with only essential staff allowed to come to work. 

These services can only open at 8am and must close at 3pm and will be subject to curfew that will start at 6pm and end at 6am, said VP Chiwenga.

Only mining, manufacturing and agriculture industries are exempted while other commercial services comprising all formal businesses and registered informal traders are suspended with effected from Tuesday January 5, 2021 for 30 days.

Inter provincial and inter-city transport services are restricted only to essential services and commercial services.

“People must stay at home save for buying food and medicines or transporting sick relatives. Cross border traders are stopped forthwith save for commercial and transit cargo related to essential and critical services. Air transportation remains unhindered and will continue as before with arrivals and returning residents being required to present Covid-19 free certificates,” added VP Chiwenga.

Only returning residents and essential service drivers will be allowed into the country subject to presentation of Covid-19 free certificates valid for 48 hours. 

This will likely be a blow to the tourism industry which was expecting relaxation of restrictions in anticipation of international clients.

Restaurants, bottle stores and bars have been closed for 30 days except those servicing hotel residents. Tourist facilities and national parks will operate as before subject to usual health precautions according to the VP, but will likely not get clients because of ban on inter city travel.


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