Zimbabwe has banned all public gatherings and imposed a lockdown in two more districts, citing a surge in Covid-19 infections 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 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,” Retired General Chiwenga told journalists in Harare.
“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.
“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.”
Following a surge in Covid-19 infectious and deaths during the 2020 festive season, Zimbabwe introduced strict restrictions to curb spread of the virus. It, however, began relaxing the tough national lockdown measures in February.
Last month, the city of Kwekwe was put under localised lockdown after the discovery of the highly transmissible 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.
Rtd Gen 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, sanitising 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 and three deaths.
Since the coronavirus outbreak was first reported, Zimbabwe has recorded 39,852 Covid-19 cases, 36,992 recoveries and 1,632 deaths.