Africa, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

Zimbabwe declares coronavirus 'national disaster'

President Emmerson Mnangagwa issues ban on all public gatherings of more than 100 people

John Cassim   | 18.03.2020
Zimbabwe declares coronavirus 'national disaster'

HARARE, Zimbabwe  

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa issued a ban Tuesday on all public gatherings with more than 100 people in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.  

The ban includes weddings, church gathering, sporting events and national celebrations until a review in conducted due course.

The move comes after reports that a U.K. tourist, who visited Victoria Falls last week, tested positive for the virus known as COVID-19.

“Government has decided to postpone, curtail or cancel public events, gathering and activities. In that respect, government has postponed the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF), all National Independence Celebrations previously planned,” Mnangagwa said.

Mnangagwa added that resources originally earmarked for events would be redirected toward strengthening defenses against the coronavirus. 

The president also declared the pandemic a national disaster, a move that would allow the government to mobilize resources.

While Zimbabwean borders remain open, all crossing points, or undesignated crossing ports, would be closed.

“Travelling from high risk countries are encouraged to postpone their travel arrangements to Zimbabwe for the next 30 days starting from the 20th March 2020.

Zimbabweans are discouraged from traveling to, through and from high risk countries during the same period,” Mnangagwa said.

Zimbabwe’s health delivery system is run down owing to shortages of drugs and medical supplies. Currently, only the Wilkins Hospital in Harare and Thorngrove in Bulawayo are being used as quarantine centers.

All hospital facilities are on high alert for COVID-19, hence kits and other accessories for screening, handling, testing and treatment will be availed, Mnangagwa said. 

Zimbabwe is yet to report a coronavirus case but has dealt with at least seven suspected cases.


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