Zimbabwe to strengthen Covid preventive measures

Zimbabwe has decided to strengthen anti-CCovid-19 measures from Monday, banning all social gatherings and enforcing mandatory testing of travellers from hotspot countries, following a surge in infections and deaths in recent weeks.

“The last seven days have seen 596 new cases and 26 deaths as compared to the same period in May 2021 when we had 132 new cases and 6 deaths,” said Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, also Minister of Health and Child Care, on Saturday night.

“This is a more than three-fold increase in new cases and deaths,” Xinhua news agency quoted Chiwenga as saying.

“Sadly, it has been noted that there has been a general complacency in adhering to the preventative measures both in the communities and workplaces,” he added. “We are also witnessing a sharp increase in cases and deaths globally and in the SADC (Southern African Development Community) region.”

Chiwenga said there would be stricter enforcement of preventive measures such as mandatory wearing of masks in public places, maintaining social and physical distancing, and washing or sanitizing of hands frequently.

“The government will strengthen testing and contact tracing as well as quarantining contacts and isolating confirmed cases,” he said.

He said public transport operators should adhere to the instructions on recommended passenger numbers and ensure all passengers are wearing their face masks properly.

Passengers must have their temperature checked and their hands sanitized during boarding. Public transport operators will be required to disinfect their vehicles after every trip.

“All gatherings except funerals are banned. These gatherings include but are not limited to weddings, church gatherings, music festivals and sports activities. Funerals shall be limited to 30 people,” he said.

While funeral gatherings will be allowed, the number of attendees has been limited to 30.

He added that all Covid funerals would be supervised by health personnel.

“All workshops and meetings are to be held virtually,” said the Vice President.

In addition, all offices, both government and private, are to be decongested by 50 per cent, except for offices connected with essential services.

Chiwenga also announced that beer halls and nightclubs would remain closed while bottle stores would operate from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“Operators should ensure that there is no drinking in and around their premises. Failure to adhere to these measures will result in withdrawal of business licenses.

“Hotel and lodge bars and restaurants are open to their residents up to 10 p.m. All other restaurants and fast food outlets will serve takeaways only,” Chiwenga added.

He said there would be strict enforcement of the 48-hour PCR negative certificate requirement and mandatory testing of all travelers from hot spots at their expense regardless of their negative PCR certificates.

“Those who present fake Covid negative certificates shall be arrested and prosecuted,” he warned.

Zimbabwe has so far registered 39,852 coronavirus copies with 1,632 deaths.