President Emmerson Mnangagwa has, as expected, extended Zimbabwe’s lockdown by a further two weeks, although he made some modifications allowing limited mining and manufacturing activities to resume.
Zimbabwe’s lockdown was due to end on Sunday, but Mnangagwa pointed out the country’s confirmed COVID-19 cases were on the rise and there was need to extend the lockdown.
With the two weeks’ extension, the lockdown is now due to end on May 3, when the government will once again announce the next steps.
There had been calls from quarters to ease the lockdown, but Mnangagwa said “we chose the route of abundant caution”.
Mnangagwa said now was not the time to lift the lockdown, as Zimbabwe was yet to meet some of the World Health Organisation thresholds for re-opening the economy.
Furthermore, the President announced that the nation would upscale testing, so more people can be tested for the coronavirus.
Zimbabwe has a monthly target of 33 000 tests, but so far has only conducted just over 2 000 tests as of April 18.
Mnangagwa said more health institutions were being repurposed to act as COVID-19 treatment centres.
He noted that there was need for economic activity to resume, allowing mining companies to restart operations, but under strict conditions.
Manufacturing companies have also been given the greenlight to resume operations.
On tobacco, one of the country’s main foreign currency earners, Mnangagwa said players in that industry had agreed to decentralise operations to avoid crowding.
Mnangagwa said the decision to extend the lockdown was not an easy one, but was informed by the need to flatten the coronavirus spread curve.
So far, Zimbabwe has recorded 25 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, while three people have succumbed to the virus.
Neighbouring South Africa also extended its lockdown by two weeks.
So far, more than 2,3 million coronavirus cases have been confirmed globally, with 162 000 deaths recorded.