Wearing of masks remains mandatory as new Omicron variants emerge

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BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
GOVERNMENT yesterday said it would not lift COVID-19 restrictions, which include wearing of masks and a ban on big gatherings, to help control the spread of the pandemic ahead of the Easter holidays.

Neighbouring Botswana has detected new Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5. The first Omicron variant was first detected in Botswana in November last year and has since spread across the globe and mutated in the process into other variants.


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During a post-Cabinet media briefing yesterday in Harare, Health acting minister Paul Mavima said government had resolved not to lift the COVID-19 restrictions and regulations, which include wearing of masks, social distancing and gatherings limited to 100 people.
“The resolution that we came up with today is that there is no relaxation whatsoever on the existing provisions to contain COVID-19,” he said.

“Everything remains as is despite the success that we have seen in terms of containment of COVID-19. There is a potential for an increase in COVID-19 cases during the Easter celebrations and also the cold weather, which can fuel the spread of COVID-19 and government is saying no relaxation of COVID-19.

“We continue being on watch and make sure that we observe those protocols which include sanitisation, social distancing and also vaccination. There is nothing that has changed. We need to strengthen the awareness campaigns to promote the ongoing vaccination so that our people are protected.”

Several African countries have, however, eased COVID-19 regulations which include mandatory testing at ports of entries. Ghana recently ended its mandatory requirement to wear face masks in public.

Last month, Kenya lifted COVID-19 restrictions, which included a ban on large indoor gatherings such as those for religious services and a requirement to present a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival for air travel passengers.

President Emmerson Mnanagwa urged citizens to remain vigilant in light of the new variants detected in Botswana.

“Let us not lower our guard. COVID-19 remains a national threat to our well-being,” he tweeted.

“Social distance, mask up, sanitise, get tested regularly and get vaccinated, including a booster. A healthy nation is key to Zimbabwe attaining its aspirations.”

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