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Zimbabwe bans all public gatherings as Covid-19 cases surge

Monday June 14 2021
MBABW PIC

People wear protective face masks in Harare, Zimbabwe, on December 31, 2020. Zimbabwe has banned all public gatherings and imposed a lockdown in two more districts, following a surge in Covid-19 infections. PHOTO | WILFRED KAJESE | ANADOLU AGENCY via AFP

By KITSEPILE NYATHI

Zimbabwe has banned all public gatherings, citing a surge in Covid-19 infectious amid fears of a third wave of the pandemic.

Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who doubles as Health and Child Care minister, announced the measures on Saturday after the country recorded a huge jump in newly recorded cases.

“The country is experiencing a surge in cases,” Retired General Chiwenga told journalists in Harare.

“The last seven days have seen 596 new cases and 26 deaths as compared to the same period in May 2021 where we had 132 new cases and six deaths.”

He added: “This is a more than four- fold increase in new cases and deaths.

“Sadly, it has been noted that there has been a general complacency in adhering to the preventative measures both in the communities and work places.

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“We are also witnessing a sharp increase in cases and deaths globally and in the (Southern African Development Community) region.”

He said all gatherings, except funerals, had been banned.

“These gatherings include, but are not limited to weddings, church gatherings, music festivals and sports activities,” Rtd Gen Chiwenga added.

“Funerals shall be limited to 30 people. All Covid-19 funerals will be supervised by health personnel.”

Zimbabwe started relaxing tough national lockdown measures in February after a surge in Covid-19 infectious and deaths during the 2020 festive season forced the authorities to re-introduce movement restrictions.

Last month, the city of Kwekwe was put under localised lockdown after the discovery of the highly transmissible Delta variant first detected in India.

Localised lockdowns were introduced in two more districts last week after they recorded a high number of Covid-19 cases.

Rt General Chiwenga announced changes in operating hours for businesses effective Monday.

“With regards to retail businesses and shops, their operating hours shall be from 0800 hours to 1800 hours,” he said.

“It is expected that the operators ensure that there is strict adherence to preventive measures such as proper wearing of face masks, sanitizing and temperature checks of clients.

“They should also ensure that they limit the number of clients in their shops to maintain physical distancing.”

On Saturday, the country recorded 164 Covid-19 cases with three deaths.

Zimbabwe now has 39 852 Covid-19 cases since the outbreak began last year with 1 632 deaths and 36 992 recoveries.

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