By Bernard Mpofu
Zimbabwe has put districts near its border with Zambia under a strict lockdown following a surge in Covid-19 infections in the past few weeks.
Kariba and Hurungwe in Mashonaland West Province have become new Covid-19 hotpots amid growing concerns about a third wave of the pandemic in Zimbabwe.
The two-week strict lockdown follows a similar one imposed in the Midlands city of Kwekwe last month following a spike in Covid-19 cases and the detection of the Delta variant of the coronavirus that was first discovered in India.
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said the government had noted a sharp increase in Covid-19 cases in Zambia and the districts bordering the country’s northern neighbour.
“I, therefore, direct that the following measures be implemented in order to control the spread of Covid-19 in these areas: Curfew from 1800 hours to 06 00 hours,” said Chiwenga, who doubles as Health and Child Care minister.
“Entry or exit into these districts is prohibited except for essential services,” he added.
“Public transport to carry half their carrying capacity to enable physical distancing.
“Every public transport vehicle be disinfected after every trip.”
Maxwell Hove, chief director curative services in the Health and Child Care ministry, said the measures were being introduced to contain the outbreak.
“The Ministry of Health and Child Care has noted an increase in Covid-19 cases in Mashonaland West province and the hotspots are Hurungwe and Kariba districts,” Hove said.
“More than 40 cases were recorded in the last three days. The ministry has, therefore, declared a lockdown in the hotspots of Kariba and Hurungwe districts.
“The lockdown will be reviewed after two weeks.”
He added: “Those living outside Hurungwe and Kariba are prohibited from visiting the two districts.
“The public is advised that health education, contact tracing, and isolating positive cases is being done.
“We urge the public to cooperate with health workers and to continue adhering to the World Health Organisation containment measures like sanitising, social distancing and the correct wearing of face masks.”
The government also banned all gatherings countrywide except for funerals that are now restricted to only 30 people.
It also introduced a curfew between 10 PM and 5:30 AM.