Zambian border with Tanzania reopens

Zambia has reopened its Nakonde border with Tanzania for cargo after days of closure of the transit point for copper and cobalt exports and fuel imports, but people are not allowed to cross.

President Edgar Lungu shut the border one week ago after Nakonde recorded 76 cases of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus, the highest number registered by Africa’s second leading copper producer in a day.

Zambia’s Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya said the lockdown imposed on Nakonde town was lifted on Thursday and Friday, but restrictions on movement would come back into force on Saturday to allow for mass screening.

Zambia’s total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases rose to 668 on Friday, with 7 deaths, the minister told a media briefing.

Sichone had said on Wednesday that talks were ongoing with Tanzania over the border closure, and an agreement could be reached soon.

A mining industry executive said the border had opened for copper exports from noon (1000 GMT) on Friday. A logistics official said: “We have trucks that have already crossed.”

The minister previously said priority would be given to trucks bringing essential goods such as fuel, medical supplies, and food into Zambia.