BY RICHARD MUPONDE/MIRRIAM MANGWAYA
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday imposed a Level 4 lockdown with immediate effect for the next two weeks, which will see the suspension of intercity movement, except for distribution of medication.
This follows a surge in COVID-19 cases across the country since the onset of the third wave three weeks ago.
Prior to the pronouncement of the lockdown, many areas, especially in small cities declared hotspots across the country, had already been placed under localised lockdowns as a measure to control the virus.
In a statement yesterday, Mnangagwa reduced business operating working hours, with industry ordered to decongest workplaces to 40% and all companies directed to observe the World Health Organisation COVID-19 guidelines.
“Following a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, and subsequent to the localised lockdown measures introduced in places such as Kwekwe, Kariba and Chinhoyi, we are now stepping up our efforts by introducing the following additional enhanced Level 4 measures,” Mnangagwa said.
“Level 4 enhanced lockdown measures which take immediate effect will run for the duration of two weeks, and will be reviewed thereafter.”
On Monday, Zimbabwe recorded 842 new cases and 13 deaths, with an average of 727 cases per day for the past week.
As of June 28, Zimbabwe had recorded 47 284 confirmed cases, including 37 949 recoveries and 1 749 deaths.
By yesterday afternoon, a total of 764 248 people had been vaccinated against COVID-19.
National recovery rate dropped to 80% from 94% recorded at the beginning of this month.
As of June 27, Zimbabwe had 353 hospitalised cases.
Mnangagwa, however, said all commercial transport would remain operational to allow the economy to continue running with all the people obliged to strictly adhere to COVID-19 protocols.
He also said travellers coming from countries with Alpha and Delta COVID-19 variants would be quarantined and tested at their own expense.
The Delta variant has caused a lot of human carnage suffering in India, where close to 5 000 deaths have been recorded in a day in one of Asia’s most populous countries.
The variant spread to other countries last week, and United States President Joe Biden expressed fear that the variant would cause untold deaths in the world’s most powerful nation.
“Those deported back to Zimbabwe will be subject to self-quarantine, or will be quarantined in identified places. Travellers with fake COVID-19 documents will attract custodial sentences,” Mnangagwa said.
He said the COVID-19 vaccination blitz would be rolled out in the border towns and cities, tobacco auction floors, Grain Marketing Board depots, cotton marketing depots, major construction sites, people’s markets such as Renkini in Bulawayo and Mbare in Harare and all hotspots.
“Ministers and parliamentarians will be dispatched to their constituencies to disseminate information, especially on the vaccination programme,” the President said.
“As we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, I call upon the whole nation to continue observing the WHO protocols, as well as to embrace the free vaccination programme that is availed by the government, to protect all our people.”
The new development comes after neighbouring South Africa, which was on Level 2, moved back to Level 4 lockdown on Monday as the country struggles against the third wave of COVID-19 infections.
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