On the 24th of May, a 2-week long lockdown started in Kwekwe. This was due to a sudden spike in the number of active COVID-19 cases there. This was also necessitated by some of the people have tested positive for the Indian variant B.1.617. The Kwekwe lockdown was subsequently extended for another 2 weeks. Hurungwe and Kariba are now the latest districts to have been hit with a 2-week lockdown. This is because of a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases in Mashonaland West – particularly in Kariba and Hurungwe. Then last Saturday, the Ministry of Health announced a series of COVID-19 measures taking effect today (the 14th of June).

Measures To Curb The Surge Of COVID-19

This is a press statement that was released by the Ministry of Health and Child Care:

1. Fellow Zimbabweans, the country has done very well in terms of curbing the spread of COVID 19. In addition, our vaccination against COVID 19 is going on very well. The country is however experiencing a surge in cases. The last 7 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 6 deaths. This is a more than 4 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 SADC region. In order to curb this surge in cases and deaths in Zimbabwe and prevent a potential 3rd wave, the following measures will be implemented effective Monday 14 June 2021.

2. There will be stricter enforcement of the following preventive measures:

–  mandatory wearing of masks in public places

– maintaining social and physical distancing

–  washing or sanitising your hands frequently

3. Government will strengthen testing and contact tracing as well as quarantining contacts and isolating confirmed cases.

4. Regarding public transport, the operators are to adhere to recommended passenger numbers. They should ensure that all passengers are wearing their face masks properly. On boarding they must have their temperature checked and their hands sanitized. Public transport operators shall disinfect their vehicles after every trip.

 5. With regards to gatherings, the following measures are to be implemented.

All gatherings except funerals are banned. These gatherings include but are not limited to weddings, church gatherings, music festivals, and sports activities.

Funerals shall be limited to 30 people. All COVID 19 funerals will be supervised by health personnel.

All workshops and meetings are to be held virtually. In addition all offices, both government and private, are to decongest by 50% (except for offices connected with essential services)

6. With regards to retail businesses and shops, their operating hours shall be from 0800 hours to 1800 hours. 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.

Beer halls and night clubs will remain closed whilst bottle stores will operate from 1000 hours – 1600 hours. Operators should ensure that there is no drinking in and around their premises.  Failure to adhere to these measures will result in withdrawal of business licenses.

Hotel and lodge bars and restaurants are open to their residents up to 2200 hours. All other restaurants and fast foods outlets will serve takeaways only.

7. With regards to people’s market places such as but not limited to Mbare, Renkin, Mupedzanhamo, Sakubva, Machipisa and others, they shall close at 1800 hours. The operators shall ensure strict adherence to preventive measures such as proper wearing of face masks, sanitizing, social distancing and temperature checks of their clients. Non-compliance will result in closure of that market.

Our health inspectors and other law enforcement agents will move around and monitor compliance to these measures. Failure to adhere to these measures will result in withdrawal of the business licenses.

8. With regards to tobacco auction floors, the owners must ensure strict adherence to preventive measures such as proper wearing of face masks, temperature checks and sanitizing of clients and maintaining physical distancing. Each consignment of tobacco bales to be accompanied by at most 2 people into the auction floor. Targeted vaccination of tobacco farmers and their workers will be available.

Tobacco auction floor employees are required to have a negative Covid 19 PCR or rapid antigen test which will be valid for 2 weeks. Vending within and around the tobacco floors is prohibited.

Our health inspectors and other law enforcement agencies shall be monitoring for compliance. Failure to adhere to these measures will result in closure of that particular auction floor.

9. At all ports of entry there shall be strict enforcement of the 48 hour old PCR negative certificate requirement and mandatory testing of all travellers from hot spots at their expense regardless of their negative PCR certificates.

There shall be quarantining of those coming from hot spots in designated quarantine centres at their own expense. Those who present with fake COVID 19 negative certificates shall be arrested and prosecuted.

10. With regards to management of local hot spots, the following measures shall be implemented

a) There will be daily national updates of hot spots as part of the daily COVID 19 situational report

b) The public is being advised not to travel to these hot spots areas

c) There will be increased testing and contact tracing within the hot spot areas.

d) Vaccinations and health education will be intensified in the hot spots areas.

e) If the above measures fail to control the hot spot areas, targeted lockdowns will be effected in those areas.

Finally, I want to remind everyone to properly wear your face mask, sanitise, maintain physical and social distancing, and get vaccinated.