Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has extended a nationwide lockdown meant to control the spread of coronavirus, though the restrictions will be reviewed every two weeks.
In a live broadcast on Saturday, Mnangagwa said the measure would remain in place “for an indefinite period”, adding that “the country needs to ease out of the lockdown in a strategic and gradual manner”.
He said he was worried by the increase in cases of local transmission of the coronavirus in Zimbabwe and that the country was not yet in a position to lift the lockdown.
“Zimbabwe will therefore continue on Level 2 lockdown for an indefinite period,” an AFP report quoted him.
“We shall have regular two-week interval reviews to assess progress or lack of it. This should give us more time to strengthen the prevention and case management approaches for the various risk populations. Social and physical distancing will continue to be maintained and enforced at all times. I appeal to our people to exercise greater discipline in this regard,” Mnangagwa added.
Mnangagwa said the hundreds of Zimbabwean migrants returning home every week, mainly from South Africa and Botswana, will have to undergo a 21-day quarantine in school and college buildings set aside for the purpose.
The president said only students writing final examinations this year would be allowed to resume classes, but did not say when. The government is still working on plans to reopen schools in phases.
The drastic restrictions have so far borne fruit as coronavirus transmission has not been widespread and numbers remain lower than the initial projections, Mnangagwa said.
Zimbabwe imposed its lockdown on March 30 and has recorded 44 confirmed coronavirus cases and four related deaths.
Mnangagwa said the World Health Organization had classified coronavirus transmission in Zimbabwe as “sporadic”, with a low number of cases and no discernible clusters.
“This may suggest that, despite the small numbers tested, our country might have a reduced COVID-19 trajectory,” he said.
Doctors and experts have warned that Zimbabwe’s poorly equipped health service could not cope with a severe coronavirus outbreak.
The United Nations says Zimbabwe is facing a plethora of humanitarian problems, such as recurring droughts, food insecurity and a collapsing economy, and needs international assistance.
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